Sam Salkin: Ode to the loser

Somewhere in the Marvin Center tonight, there will be some disappointed Colonials.

When the Joint Elections Committee releases results of this year’s Student Associations elections, there will be those candidates who wished they had not blown off that random endorsement hearing. Others will regret not coughing up an extra $50 for color campaign buttons instead of measly monochrome ones. Some are going to be convinced they joined the wrong slate and chances are there will be folks regretting ever getting into the whole thing.

They’ll be saying to themselves, “If I’m not in the SA, how will I ever make a difference on this campus?” Well, I’m here to ensure those (soon to be) former candidates; there is no need to be so fatalistic. Believe it or not, you’re better off making a real difference outside of the SA.

For years, the SA has combated the image of college students playing dress-up and pretending to be politicos, making deals all in preparation for a career in politics. Much of this image derives from the inability of this organization to make a true impact on campus.

Before people jump to remind me of condoms in freshman residence halls and a free bus to Dulles airport, understand that I’m not saying the SA is incapable of doing anything of consequence. Two years ago, SA President Omar Woodard helped secure funds to restore several dorms and this year, President Lamar Thorpe has helped to promote the 20-year Campus Plan to the GW community. Still, to say that the SA needs to be the be-all, end-all of student life on this campus shows a na’ve frame of mind.

So, to the losers among us tonight, take a step back. Breathe a little and realize there are other ways to improve life on campus outside of the SA.

Take Green GW, created this year by a group of students with no connection to the SA, which has worked to transform the way people view the environment on campus. By getting students to pledge to make small adjustments in their daily lives, Green GW has helped to promote a sustainable way of life on campus. This activism can bring GW to the forefront of environmentally friendly campuses. But Green GW wasn’t an SA initiative or pet project. Independent students stood up and made it a point to improve eco-friendliness on campus.

Perhaps the single greatest movement on campus has been the Colonial Army, another group founded outside the auspices of the SA. Say all you want about GW basketball not performing as well this season compared to last, but know that no group has been able to harness the success of the team in the past years the way Colonial Army has. This organization has been instrumental in creating a cohesive group of students that has put GW on the map for one of Division I’s rowdiest student sections.

Obviously, the SA has played a role in the success of Green GW, Colonial Army and all other student orgs that take funds. To the losers: don’t be upset that you didn’t win, be glad that you have the chance to create the new great thing on campus and take money from the SA. Buzzing for Change, another influential student group on campus, doesn’t raise lots of money for kids with cancer because the SA told them to. Rather, the SA funds Buzzing for Change because it is a worthwhile project on campus that deserves funding.

It seems as if not being subjected to nights of Roberts Rules of Order in the Marvin Center might end up as a blessing in disguise. The chance to make real change on campus lies with the students of GW. Some will end up making their mark in the SA and others will do it supporting a cause important to them outside of our hallowed student government.

So, candidates, don’t sweat those campaign buttons you didn’t get. Chances are they would have just ended up in a trash bin somewhere in Foggy Bottom. As for that endorsement hearing you skipped, erase it from your mind. Heck, if anything, next year when you start GW’s hottest new student org, you’ll be the one doing the endorsing. That doesn’t sound so bad either.

-The writer, a junior majoring in geography, is a Hatchet columnist.

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