Since I have been a candidate in Student Association elections three times – running each time on a slate – I want to acknowledge the role that I have played in creating the importance of slates in the Student Association electoral process. Because of that role and my experience, I have come to the firm decision that present system of SA elections needs to be improved. This coming week, I will introduce legislation in the senate for a referendum on a constitutional amendment that would abolish slates and pseudo-political parties in future SA elections. The reason for this is clear: The slate system does not allow for fair competition in the electoral process. Rather, the system presently in place has resulted in the unnecessary division and extreme polarization of students.
SA elections must be open and nonpartisan. Any student who wishes to take a part in the leadership of the GW community should have an equal chance to win a position in the SA. For the past three years, the slate – which was chosen months earlier by its leaders – whose presidential and vice presidential candidates perform the best in the election usually wins an overwhelming majority of seats in the senate. This must end. We, the student body, deserve democratic elections that are open fairly to all GW students.
Our university is filled with excellent leaders. We should no longer allow a small group of political insiders to choose our representatives. We should expect that anyone who wishes to can run for the SA and that the voters will not be manipulated by a small fraction of the student body. We deserve a SA comprised of independent leaders who will represent their constituents to the best of their abilities and who are only responsible to their fellow students.
Political factions and groups are a natural element of competitive politics. Yet allowing slates and pseudo-political parties to continue in SA elections disenfranchises the student body by closing part of the political process to the public. This must be stopped. We can no longer allow a small group of political leaders to control our political process. In the past, this has only hindered the SA’s ability to enact positive change in the GW community.
A referendum on a constitutional amendment that would abolish slates and pseudo-political parties in future SA elections is essential to ensure that the SA does not return lightly to the present system of slates. Our present system allows for too much control in the hands of a few individuals. So far I believe that we have been lucky because these leaders have chosen candidates for their slates who represent the student body, yet we cannot count on this always happening. Our fellow students deserve an election system that ensure their elections are truly democratic. We must end this modern-day political equivalent of “smoke-filled rooms.”
-The writer is a Student Association undergraduate-at-large senator and vice chair of the academic affairs committee.