(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – As President George W. Bush took his second oath of office, many Americans breathed a heavy sigh of relief that the campaign rhetoric and chaos that swept across America would be, for at least a moment, silenced. But just a few short blocks from the White House, inauguration did not bring closure to the 2004 election-rather it signaled the start of entirely new campaigns for the top seats in student government.
Up and out before the crack of dawn in the blistering cold of a Washington D.C. winter day, the candidates and their devoted followers at the George Washington University raced to secure prime poster locations around campus.
“Block the wall with your body! Run, run, run,” campaign strategists screamed to their volunteers as the bell rang signaling the start of the postering.
“Student Association elections at GW are intense. People are very serious about it and get very into the process,” said Chrissy Caggiano, a junior at GW and campaign manager for Jon Ostrower, a candidate for SA President. ” I would even venture to say that some candidates take themselves too seriously, seeing this as a stepping stone to bigger things, a point which I disagree with.”
Caggiano said she got involved in Ostrower’s campaign because the two are best friends and have been since their freshman year of college. She said her goal has been to help him run a clean, smooth campaign that “will help Jon with furthering his goals for the University.”
Caggiano said she that Ostrower’s platform is composed entirely of his own ideas and she was there to proofread, edit and guide him through the process. “I tend to be the voice of reality, continuously asking Jon the how’s and why’s of his ideas and reminding him of the feasibility of them.”
Ostrower said he is proud to be running for SA president because he spent the last three years working to improve student life.
“Student life must be something real and it must be something we fight for,” he said. “Bridging the gap between students and the university isn’t done by listing problems, it’s done by listing solutions.”
Some of Ostrower’s platforms include: making class registration easier; having major fairs to help students find the right major; increasing funding for the University Counseling Center; more off-campus dining options that accept Colonial Cash; and new dining plan options for students with special dietary needs.
Ostrower has six competitors, all of whom had to get more than 400 signatures to be placed on the ballot. Each is allowed to spend up to $650 on their campaign and is allowed to hang 150 posters around the university.
The candidates spend most of their days campaigning in between their classes, after classes and late into the night. Sleep is something that rarely occurs. They attend several endorsement hearings each night with various student organizations on campus including the College Democrats, College Republicans, the Muslim Student Organization, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, GW Model Congress, and various student newspapers.
“The best part of the campaign has been talking to people around campus about my ideas for improving GW,” Ostrower said, comparing the SA elections to the New Hampshire primary where candidates go door-to-door talking to citizens about their platforms.
Last week Ostrower received an endorsement from the Daily Colonial, one of GW’s newspapers. His roommate, Kevin Waloff, said Jon’s excitement gave everyone a burst of energy.
“Jon’s excitement was so contagious after got the endorsement that it really motivated everyone else on the campaign team to keep working together.”
Ostrower said that the whole campaign has been an incredible experience, one of the best of his life. “It has all been so much fun.”
The elections will take place next Wednesday and Thursday.
-Vanessa Maltin contributed to this article.