The process of endorsing a candidate for the Student Association presidency is a difficult task. Such an election draws some of GW’s most enthusiastic and committed students toward the opportunity of serving students as their highest representative. This year is no different; each candidate we interviewed showed a passion for solving student issues and the dedication to the job required of a president – who gifts an entire year simply for the opportunity to execute an often thankless job. After concluding meetings between the Hatchet’s editorial board, four candidates proved they could execute the job if elected. Two candidates – C.J. Calloway and Ben Traverse – distinguished themselves significantly from the remainder of the field. After a difficult and deliberate thought process, The Hatchet is proud to endorse C.J. Calloway for SA president.
The outcome of this year’s election will ultimately solve the ongoing philosophical schism within the Student Association as to the role of the executive. While some contend the SA must constantly advocate for big picture issues – most of which are unlikely to change no matter a president’s commitment – it is much more important a president recognize his or her own limitations and work within them to help students the most. C.J. Calloway recognizes this; his platform focuses on tangible services the SA can provide students to improve their daily lives at GW. His “Path to Success” program – in which he would provide students a guide with which to navigating GW’s bureaucracy – along with his liaison system for SA senators and student groups prove he is serious about providing real solutions for real problems.
While his platform focuses primarily on student services, he still envisions the SA as an advocate for common sense change in the University. He will advocate to change Marvin Center policy toward student groups, helping them have more meeting space and lifting the outrageous monopoly GW Catering enjoys at the detriment of student groups. He also envisions an active SA executive role in advocating against such administrative measures as the five-person rule – the rule that holds an entire student organization accountable for violations if five of its members are present at the time of its execution. Calloway recognizes that if the SA is to be an advocate for students, it must expend its political capital on issues it can actually change.
It is also important for the SA president to be a charismatic personality on campus. Having an outgoing and outspoken president fosters positive attitudes toward the SA and helps it reach out to disillusioned students in an effort to repair the SA’s reputation. His serving on Colonial Cabinet shows this intangible leadership potential. Calloway, like Omar Woodard, projected himself confidently and persuasively in his endorsement interview. We are confident he will be able to act similarly in his term as president.
Calloway is not without his faults, however. Despite spending a year in the Senate, he can claim no significant legislative accomplishments. His ideas on medical amnesty for EMeRG. calls – quickly emerging as this election season’s trendy issue – are not as fully developed as other candidates’ proposals. Calloway is also a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, an unrecognized fraternity. Given how the University continues to crack down on unrecognized Greek-letter groups, Calloway’s affiliation with SAE – about which we see nothing inherently wrong – could have a negative impact on his ability to deliberate in good faith on Greek-letter issues.
While these reservations exist, this page feels confident that Calloway can overcome them. Given the ability to have greater control over policy – absent the obstructive environment of the Senate – Calloway will better be able to enact programs on behalf of students. Calloway’s affiliation with SAE may yet be a disguised blessing. Showing that a member of an unrecognized fraternity can be a substantial leader on campus could help dissolve the inherent bias the University shows against them.
The second candidate this page strongly considered endorsing is Ben Traverse. During his two years of Senate service, Traverse distinguished himself in exhibiting a can-do attitude, an outspoken advocate for student rights and the body’s most prolific legislator. His platform exhibits a strong mastery of campus issues and represents the culmination of three years serving the GW community in multiple capacities. We were particularly interested in his desire to apprise students of their rights in a revised Guide to Student Rights and Responsibility and his desire to fight for increased student rights on campus. His slate’s fight for student representation on the Board of Trustees is an issue The Hatchet has repeatedly supported in staff editorials. The potential of a united president-executive vice presidential administration could improve the efficiency of student government at GW. Traverse also has some solid ideas on student services, such as his proposal for a holiday airport shuttle provided during popular travel times.
While Traverse is an incredibly compelling candidate – and one who enjoyed this page’s support in many of his legislative fights – his vision for the role of the SA president directly diverges from what the SA needs right now. It needs someone removed from this year’s political squabbles and gridlock. While Traverse stood up against irresponsible executive spending when it was unpopular to do so, he allowed the enmity that stemmed from the incident to deteriorate the executive-Senate relationship, at the direct detriment of students. Traverse’s platform is largely focused on advocating for issues on which the Student Association is unlikely to effect any substantial change. While recognizing big-picture issues such as the lack of quality in Aramark’s dining services and the need to have students on the Board of Trustees is important, it is equally important for an SA president to recognize his or her inability to change those issues and move on to other issues on which they can make a difference. It is on this issue where Traverse and Calloway contrast most prominently. Whereas Traverse views the SA as a large-scale advocacy organization, Calloway recognizes the SA can be most effective as a provider of services to improve the lives of GW students.
Jon Ostrower brings some excellent ideas to the table. His focus on improving the class registration system – while focused on the actual process of registration rather than a more significant online waitlist system – is admirable. Ostrower is the candidate who best articulates a coherent policy on medical amnesty, recognizing the need for UPD dispatch for safety purposes but the simultaneous need for their incident reports to not be included in a student’s permanent judicial record, shows an impressive understanding for nuance. Ostrower also has a quantifiable record of getting things done through his service in the Residence Hall Association.
Audai Shakour has an incredibly sincere passion for serving students and for student government in general. Shakour distinguished himself by approaching The Hatchet with thorough, pragmatic ideas drawn from real experiences at other colleges around the country. Like many other candidates, Shakour expressed a desire to create a Craig’s List-style Web site for students, and should be commended for such a stance. While he is charismatic and passionate, his lack of student government experience in knowing how to get things done separates him from other candidates.
The Student Association has made substantial strides in returning to relevance in the lives of students. There is still substantial work to do. It is imperative that the student body elects an individual poised to build on Omar Woodard’s success this year, and be in a position to make up for some of his weaknesses – most notably his inability to work with the Senate. C.J. Calloway represents another charismatic, forward thinking yet pragmatic candidate for the job and The Hatchet is proud to endorse him.