While voter turnout in last week’s Student Association election was lower than last year, the bigger story is the success and dominance of the Coalition for Reform slate.
The coalition won 10 of 15 undergraduate Senate seats and put a presidential candidate, Ben Traverse, in a run-off election with Audai Shakour (see “SA run-off may change”, p.1). This year was the first in which candidates could be listed on the ballot with their affiliated political group.
“Everything has gone exactly as we wanted it to,” Traverse said about the success of his slate. “We’ve put together one of the best campaigns George Washington has ever seen.”
But the top coalition candidates will not be able to enjoy their victories just yet. Traverse and Executive Vice President-Elect Morgan Corr are each facing four new violations from Joint Elections Committee, and if found guilty of any three, would be removed from the election.
Traverse said the newest violations are just the most recent attempts of the JEC to target the slate.
“This is obvious bias against my slate. It is unfair, and the allegations are frivolous,” Traverse said.
Despite all the violations brought against the coalition throughout the season, they still were able to win seats throughout the undergraduate Senate.
Freshman Matt Alderman, who ran on the Students First team, was the only non-coalition member to win an undergraduate Columbian College of Arts and Sciences seat. Slate members Tyler Huson, Casey Rose, Chris Rotella, Marc Abanto and Nick D’Addario won the five remaining CCAS seats.
Coalition for Reform took a clean sweep of the Elliott School of International Affairs, putting Elliot Gillerman, Daniel Balke and Carolena Boyce to the school’s Senate positions.
Kirk Halderman of the coalition won an undergraduate School of Business spot, along with Alexander Popowich of the Student First team.
In addition to winning a majority of undergraduate Senate seats, the Coalition for Reform also produced next year’s executive vice president. Morgan Corr, who ran against write-in candidates Tim Saccoccia and Asher Corson, garnered the support of 80 percent of voting students.
“I am just ecstatic,” Corr said the day after the Joint Elections Committee announced his victory early Friday morning.
Corr said the key to the coalition’s success was the group of candidates running on the slate.
“We had a diverse group of people coming together representing a wide variety of issues that students care about,” Corr said. “We were about diversity uniting.”
“After working so hard for so long, I am just proud that I am able to call myself part of this group,” said Michelle Tanney, an undergraduate at-large senator-elect who ran on the coalition.
“When I first joined the coalition I was told that we were going to win by networking with students across the University,” Tanney added. “I think our dorm storming and massive get-out-the-vote efforts are what clinched our victory.”
Traverse said he believes the strength of the Coalition for Reform also came from its platform, which dealt with a wide variety of student life issues.
“Greek life, academic issues, student life issues, it is a well-rounded set of realistic ideas and the voters realized that,” Traverse said.
He also pointed to the graduate student population as a strong base.
“My platform really resonated with graduate students, an important group on campus that is often left out of SA campaigning,” Traverse said.
Traverse’s dependence on Law School votes may hinder his chances in this week’s run-off election, however, as the Law School’s spring break will coincide with the voting.
While members of the Coalition for Reform are enjoying their victories and a virtual monopoly of the undergraduate Senate seats, some current SA members said Traverse and his group are out of touch with the student body.
“I didn’t think Ben was going to do well in the election because he has burnt so many brigades within the SA and has made more enemies than friends,” Sen. Ryan Kilpatrick (ESIA-U) said.
Kilpatrick said having Traverse and Corr in charge of the governing body would “effectively end the SA as we know it.”
He added that the two candidates essentially forced the resignations of former Executive Chief of Staff Mary Mai and former Senate Chief of Staff Justin Neidig. Mai quit her post after questions arose over student money spent on an executive dinner at an expensive Georgetown restaurant, and Neidig resigned after Traverse criticized him for an editorial that appeared in The Hatchet.
“They coordinated these (attacks) through op-eds in The Hatchet and with attacks against the executive,” he said. “Unfortunately the student body didn’t know that and this will continue to go on if Ben and Morgan serve together next year.”
Traverse said, however, that he can “count the number of people on one hand” that have a major problem with his campaign.
He said, “Obviously the majority of the people who voted don’t have that same problem, because look at the election results.”