Students have one chance each year to elect from among their peers a representative body tasked with advocating for student concerns and allocating about a half million dollars in student funds. Unfortunately, on both accounts, this representative body – the Student Association – often fails. The latest case of ineptitude – the delays surrounding the administration of SA elections – when combined with lackluster performance throughout the year, seriously call into question the efficacy of the SA and the necessity for its continued existence.
Most students are probably not aware that there are delays in the SA election process. This in itself is an issue. Students are no longer concerned with the SA because it only fulfills half of its dual obligation. Student organization allocations ran fairly smoothly this year, but the other half of the SA’s responsibility – advocating for students and providing meaningful services – fell flat.
President Audai Shakour no longer maintains a great deal of legitimacy simply because he has failed to fulfill many, if not all, of his campaign promises. GWlist.com, the centerpiece of his administration – although supported by this page during its initial formulation – still lingers without much functionality. In terms of the elections, Shakour has yet to make his Joint Elections Committee appointments, a key factor in the delays.
Eventually, the SA will hold elections. The question for students, however, is whether they should even care enough to participate when this organization can barely administer its own elections. As has occurred in past years, a limited number of students will go to the polls and maintain the status quo of abysmal voter turnout that engenders student apathy and another round of student representatives beholden to a small number of constituents.
Still, there could be a better way. Imagine an SA that lives up to its dual responsibility by funding student organizations and acting as a strong and confident voice for the student body. Imagine an SA operating with the efficiency to respond to student concerns, the power to readily converse with high-level administrators and the legitimacy to affect University policy. Imagine an SA that can galvanize the student population into rallying around important causes, both on campus and around the world, in which the University can take a lead.
Students are in desperate need of such an organization. This election season will likely bring more of the same. There is a chance, however, that a pioneering student will have the imagination and charisma to end this chapter of the SA’s history and oversee an administration with the courage to tackle the systematic issues that consistently result in failure. Until the SA can operate in a manner commensurate with its mandate, GW will have to suffer under the bureaucratic mess that masquerades itself as student government.