Our View: SA slates have hurt student representation in recent years by creating inherent rifts between branches
Anyone who has followed the Student Association elections for the past three years would have had a case of d?j? vu last week. During the general election, the Real GW slate overwhelmingly dominated the Senate election, and the group’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates were expected to prevail in last week’s run off. But for the third year in a row, an SA insider backed by a winning slate lost the top post to an unaffiliated candidate.
Morgan Corr’s loss to Lamar Thorpe for the SA presidency mirrors last year’s election in which SA career politician Ben Traverse, one of the leaders of the overwhelmingly successful Coalition for Reform slate, lost to SA outsider Audai Shakour. Two years ago, the Clean Slate took many Senate seats while failing to secure a victory for their executive vice presidential candidate.
A clear pattern emerges from three years’ experience with SA elections: the major slates have failed to gain control of the executive branch, preventing them from taking total control of student government. This pattern engenders inherent division between the executive and Senate, furthering in-fighting and promulgating inefficacy.
Another negative outcome of the recent reliance on slates is their quick devolution after the election. These loose associations of students do not strictly adhere to their own platforms. Rather, the common bond is the desire to win an election. The danger behind this reality is that random assemblages of students lock out individual candidates who may have fresh ideas outside of the scope of the slates. As the SA continues to contemplate constitutional changes, its framers should seriously consider banning slates in future elections to mitigate their negative effects.
Although Real GW was unable to ensure victory for its top two candidates, they did win a majority of seats in next year’s Senate. This dynamic has the potential to halt progress in the SA by creating an internally adversarial student government, resulting in another year plagued by few results. If next year’s elected body is to overcome that pitfall, SA members must work toward greater cooperation between these two branches.
Lamar Thorpe is coming off an election won through integrity, principle and enthusiasm. He should stick to these winning qualities as he begins his relationship with the Senate. It is important that both sides recognize each other’s achievements and make a concerted effort to make cooperation a priority.
Josh Lasky, who won the EVP race, has worked closely with Thorpe in recent days. An effective working relationship must be achieved between the two to avoid another year of business as usual. Lasky, a personable individual who understands the constraints of his position and the SA in general, has the unique challenge and opportunity to bridge the gap between the executive and the Senate. No one has fulfilled such a role in previous years, making the results of that vacancy – little progress and sustained conflict – abundantly clear.
The SA is coming off one of its least productive years in recent history, but there is an opportunity for change. A more efficient and cooperative SA will not only ensure tangible results, but it will also negate the impetus behind forming slates – SA internal division – for future elections. This year, SA representatives should learn from the failure of slates in the past, put aside petty political differences and focus on the goal at hand: making GW a better place.