Like most of you, I get my SA news Monday to Thursday, Thursday to Monday, from The Hatchet. Last Thursday, for the first time in a while, the SA news actually reported on something the organization is trying to do that would benefit students. Then last Monday, the SA reverted back to its old problems.
Last week brought news of SA plans to urge a boycott of J Street for a day. The food venues there face a great competitive advantage over other local food shops. This is true not only because of the ability to use GWorld there but also because of J Street’s central location in the Marvin Center. As a result of this advantage, Aramark can let the quality of food choices and service slide because it knows students will still be customers because of its location. An SA-sponsored boycott would be a way to break this grasp on the market.
This plan is not without flaws. By now, those who have decided not to patronize J Street have probably stopped going there already. Students who still use J Street are probably content with the service and won’t want to take part in the boycott. Only doing the boycott for one day isn’t greatly going to affect Aramark sales. Going for at least a week would actually make a difference and bring greater attention to the problem.
For its part, the SA looks good in all of this because they finally appear to being doing something that would help the student body. This is opposed to either their quixotic crusades like putting a student on the Board of Trustees, or worse, the constant infighting and mudslinging between senators over how much they spent on food.
Unfortunately, this moment of student government unity has broken down. As some of you probably know, it’s SA election season. And what’s an SA election season without some sort of controversy? The Joint Elections Committee cited two of the race’s most prominent candidates – Ben Traverse and Morgan Corr – for starting their campaigns too early. The issue in question is the Web site of their electoral slate, Coalition for Reform. According to JEC rules campaigning can only begin after Feb. 7, and the site was up on Feb. 2.
With this has come the usual back and forth bickering we are used to seeing in our SA. The coalition maintains it did nothing wrong and that it is being unfairly targeted. The JEC claims it is being impartial. On one hand I, like most of you, learned about this Web site only after the violation had been announced. I doubt their Web site launch on the 2nd has given them a large advantage. On the other hand, if you are running on the idea of reform, it’s a good idea to follow the rules of the organization you endeavor to reform.
It’s no wonder no one votes in the SA election. I don’t mean this as hyperbole. Let me explain. GW has voter turnout for elections of about 10 percent, or roughly 2,500 Colonials. This year, for various offices, there are a total of 56 candidates running. Assuming each candidate can bring out 50 or so of their acquaintances, that covers almost all the people who end up voting. This leaves a very small minority of voters who are unconnected to any of the candidates and are just voting because they want to.
This is the biggest hurdle the SA faces if it wants to be taken seriously. To really and truly be a “Student Association,” it needs to be voted for by the students, not just the friends of the candidates running.
Also on the ballot this March will be an amendment asking us if we would like to increase the SA student fee by one dollar per credit hour. Last year this was defeated by a slim margin. This is noteworthy considering the people voting essentially don’t trust their friends with more of their money. No doubt the willingness of the other 90 percent of GW, who doesn’t care about the SA enough to even vote, is far less inclined to be in favor of this increase. I agree with them. If the SA is able in the future to get its act together, I would be more willing to part with my money to give to the SA. Until then I’ll be busy not spending it at J Street.
-The writer, a sophomore majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.