Questioning the power of the slate

Late on Thursday night when the election oversight body announced the results of the runoff election for Student Association President, the results should not have been a surprise.

In the last three years, a presidential candidate who ran on a slate has lost to an independent candidate in the runoff election for SA President and some closely involved in the elections said it was likely to happen again this year.

“History speaks for itself,” said junior Casey Pond, who ran for SA President each of the last two years without a slate of candidates. This year he ran with a vice presidential candidate.

“It’s pretty much improbable for slates to get a president elected,” Pond said.

The fact that in recent history a slated candidate has never won the presidential race causes some to question the advantages of candidates running on a slate. While slates have not helped the president win, they have been an almost unstoppable force in electing senators.

This year the Student Union slate, on which junior Marc Abanto ran and lost the presidency, will occupy all 20 undergraduate senate seats – a clean sweep. Last year the Real GW slate, on which senior Morgan Corr ran and lost the presidency in the runoff, took all but three of the undergraduate senate seats.

While no slated presidential runoff candidate has won, slated senate candidates have dominated the election.

Richard Fowler, a sophomore who ran on the Student Union slate and won an at-large seat credited his win to working with his slate.

“We had a good ground strategy and a diverse slate with people from all branches of student government,” he said.

Pond said when a presidential candidate picks a team of students, they are shaping the senate, not the voters.

“It just seems like students have this idea that if they don’t run on a slate they’ll lose,” he said. “It makes it so that the senate isn’t being chosen by students – this year Marc Abanto chose the senate.”

Former presidential candidate Ben Traverse, a 2006 graduate, established the Coalition for Reform two years ago, which won all but two undergraduate senate seats, but lost in the runoff election for president.

“I think slates are good for the SA,” he said. “It’s not a political party, it’s people who want to work together to get things done.”

Traverse said he hopes presidential candidates will not be discouraged from running on a slate in the future.

“My goal was to run with a group of people and to not just get me elected but to get a group of people elected,” he said. “The president needs to focus on that campaign and let senators focus on theirs.”

Former SA President Audai Shakour, also a 2006 graduate, beat Traverse in the runoff, and does not favor slates.

“It goes to show that people really stop and look at the qualifications and they do not vote on who’s on a slate,” Shakour said. “It proves that candidates can’t rely on their slate to come out and support them twice in a row.”

Omar Woodard, a graduate student and also a former SA President said slates can make it difficult for the SA to work together.

“(Slates are) a terrible idea,” he said. “It’s terrible for SA cohesion. When a president and EVP come in and has a completely different senate it’s not healthy.”

The chair of the senate, executive vice president-elect sophomore Brand Kroeger, said even though he ran independent from all of the other senators and the president-elect sophomore Nicole Capp, all their differences will be worked out.

“I have a bridge to build between an independent president and the senators,” Kroeger said. “(Student Union members) have said the slate has been abolished, but the best thing is for SA to work as one cohesive unit.”

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