In this year’s contest for Student Association president, an unimpressive field of candidates has left this page unable to endorse a single candidate in good conscience. All of the candidates have some strengths but also considerable weaknesses that interfered with a clear-cut decision. None have significant accomplishments in the SA or other areas of student life to speak of, and many have unfeasible platform goals that do not reflect the reality of how change has been realized during this year’s student government successes. Of the four contenders, the editorial board narrowed its consideration to two candidates: juniors Vishal Aswani and OG Oyiborhoro.
Aswani, a student in the engineering school, has an ambitious platform and small-scale successes, specifically in his own school. His easy-going demeanor may work in day-to-day college life but raises questions as to the type of respect he could command from other elected officials and University administrators. Aswani is well grounded in research concerning elements of the University and other schools around the country that would be an asset to the SA in numerous capacities.
However, there is a hint of insincerity in Aswani’s presentation. Repeatedly claiming the SA takes itself too seriously, yet being a part of the organization for a good portion of his college career, he has contributed to that mentality. Additionally, his proposition to bring in private vendors to J Street is not only a lofty goal but also one with little chance of being attained, as the University has multi-million dollar contracts at stake. While important, greening the University should be spearheaded by the administration – and in fact greening is already under the purview of University President Steven Knapp’s task force. The loftiness of his goals would not be so concerning if Aswani presented more evidence of an ability to adapt to the unforeseeable future. We also were impressed by Aswani’s plan to form a database with corporate sponsors and government grants for student organizations. This showed his deft ability to research other universities’ plans and develop a viable solution to the problem of inadequate funding.
The only other candidate this page could seriously consider was Oyiborhoro, again with reservations. The Columbian College senator has attempted to use his time in the SA to spearhead tangible programs. Endeavors such as his Africana studies program, as well as bringing The Onion to campus, demonstrate his proactive attitude. Additionally, he commanded the most presence and exuded the most seriousness during his meeting with this page.
A main concern, however, revolves around his track record of controversy and how it would translate into a presidency. GW FEED, an initiative of Oyiborhoro’s last fall, had the potential to be a valuable addition to the GW community. Yet by failing to go through the proper channels for funding or partnering with any existing University departments or programs, Oyiborhoro shifted the focus away from the spirit of the project to the controversy surrounding it. Also, by walking out of a senate meeting and failing to meet criteria for the election ballot, Oyiborhoro has repeatedly skirted the rules that he would promote and work within as president.
A third candidate, Kevin Kozlowski, did not impress this page with pre-packaged answers and uncreative goals for the presidency. His list of accomplishments is weak and central ideas unfeasible. GW 2008, a central element of his platform aiming to create programming at GW based around the presidenital election, and his GWUnited initiative examining restructuring the senate, both border on exorbitant uses of SA time and resources. His insider status emerges through his inability to identify any problems with the greater GW community except the need for another strong leader in the SA. We wish we had seen who Kozlowski really is, not the manufactured persona he has adopted for the campaign.
Tarek al-Hariri is a young candidate with moderate goals but has no experience working in the SA in order to bring such ideas to fruition. Showing up to his endorsement hearing 30 minutes late brings into question his seriousness or ability to handle the demands of the presidency. His diplomacy and creativity are appreciated, but these are not the only tools needed to have a successful term in the executive. With more experience and taking the responsibilities of the SA executive more seriously, al-Hariri may have the potential to be an effective leader in the future.
Although a clear-cut choice for SA president is not immediately evident, it still behooves the student body to take this election seriously and find the candidate that fits their goals and displays the qualities they feel a student leader should exhibit. We, however, could not find such a candidate.