Matthew Cohen: Election reform can’t wait

The Student Court had a great opportunity this week, but instead they chose to duck and cover. On Monday night, the court could have boldly redefined and differentiated between what constitutes expenditure and what does not, in essence clarifying some of the “grayness” in the Joint Elections Committee charter. While past opinions say the court should only intervene in certain circumstances, what prevented this court from creating new precedent?

Just because a precedent exists does not qualify it as good. As a matter of fact the very precedents that have come to govern the JEC proceedings year in and year out are the same precedents that land candidates in court every year. When will a bold step toward changing this process take place? When will a court step up and try something new?

It is years overdue.

If a candidate is to seek a position in the Student Association, I would advise the candidate to tread carefully. In fact the only way to insure that your candidacy is not torpedoed is to be knowledgeable about all past Student Court Opinions, able to interpret the ambiguous JEC charter exactly as the JEC would, and be aware that whatever information you do not bring into the record in a JEC hearing will not be considered, should you need to appeal. All the while, make every campaign decision with that information in mind.

If a candidate makes a mistake or misinterprets a poorly written rule, his or her campaign could be disqualified, leaving the candidate’s fate in the hands of an outdated court. The student body deserves an apology in this case.

Kyle Boyer is a strong person and knows he “fought the good fight” as all of us who once walked in his shoes have done. The students of GW are truly the ones receiving the short end of the stick. If the SA had more airtight rules and proceedings, then the leaders the students choose would not be vulnerable to arbitrary decisions that sink their candidacy.

The JEC and the court made bad decisions, but those decisions are final and we must now remember the result of such decisions to chart the course forward. Reform must come to the election process.

If we fail to do this the SA’s image will remain in the unfavorable spotlight, and the work of other candidates in the future will remain in jeopardy. We must stand reminded, as we remember this case, of the change we need and why we need it!

The author, a GW graduate student, was a plaintiff before the court (Cohen v. JEC) and former SA senator.

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