Justin Guiffre: Involving election losers

It seems almost fitting that a campus that loves elections so much couldn’t stop at just one in deciding the next Student Association president. After an intense campaigning cycle, we will be subjected to more days of fliers, posters and the occasional free water bottle with a candidate’s name plastered all over them.

But now that most of the elections have been decided, it will be important for all of the new elected officials, as well as the potential SA president, to gain something out of the election process. I’m not just talking about another Facebook friend or leftover candy from the Kogan Plaza vote-courting; we’re talking about gaining perspective, new ideas and ways to incorporate important initiatives – even from the losing candidates.

For all the talk of student apathy towards the SA, there were still campaign workers in Kogan at 10 p.m. in the 28-degree night supporting their candidate. Our new SA officials need to find what ideas our students were absolutely passionate about that motivated them to stand through the cold all day. Those ideas, even if part of a losing candidate’s platform, should not die with their candidates. If the SA does not want to lose these qualified and devoted individuals to other causes or programs both on- and off-campus, the next president should not hesitate to involve these defeated candidates in places where they can be productive and continue to showcase their value to the student body.

Looking over the candidates’ announcements and proposals, I think that it is clear what specific things students were looking. After this year we want a candidate devoted to practical changes and someone who shows the agility to tackle unforeseen issues (mandatory J Street spending anyone?). But more than anything for the SA, and for GW as a whole, we want a sense of unity, the ability to have pride in our student leaders and our community.

Sure, everybody had a lot to say about unifying our divided campus, unifying our patchwork campus; the candidates are eager to unify just about anything they can. But after so much talk it will be a great measure of the candidates,’ quality, both elected and not, to follow through with that pledge. Just because a candidate didn’t win doesn’t mean that they should stop trying to be involved. After building such strong student followings it would be pure waste to do anything but keep those connections working to help the SA and student body as a whole bridge those gaps.

And unlike years past, there has been an actual change in the system for unity and teamwork like never before. The abolition of the slate system, besides changing the actual election process, will change the way the SA can work. Instead of coming in with voting blocs and agendas, the process will be open – paving the way for cooperation like never before.

Now that the ballots have been counted, a moment of truth will come for many of those elected. We saw so much passion and excitement during the campaigns; now the challenge will be to translate that motivation from the campaign trail to the SA meetings. They need to reach out to those who lost but were able to create such strong student support for what they brought to the table. Even if somebody doesn’t hold a title, they can still be influential on campus. Conversely, just because a student holds a title doesn’t mean they alone understand all of the desires and motivations of the student body.

The writer, a freshman majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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