Election Reaction: Different takes on SA election 2009

Motivation for change

Sophomore Julie Bindelglass, next year’s SA president, is the current Finance Committee chair.

It’s funny how much thinking you can get done when you’re outside on H Street for two days, in the cold and the rain, trying to pass out palm cards asking passersby to vote for you in an election many people didn’t know was happening. It’s a humbling ordeal, and I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.

I found myself motivated by the people that pretended to be on the phone, told me they “don’t vote,” or “don’t care” or even just ignored me. It has been the actions of the student government in past years that have cultivated the apathy. Their student government has failed them, plain and simple.

As I look ahead to next year, I have all students, from the passersby on the street to my most vocal supporters, in mind. I know the current perception of the Student Association is not going to change overnight, and I know we have a lot of work to do. I just want every student to know that we are going to begin by earning back your trust, and then working tirelessly everyday to make your day to day life on campus just a little bit better.

Remember the lessons learned

Junior Kyle Boyer is a former SA presidential candidate and current executive-vice president.

Now is the perfect time for the student body to fix its student government. One of the reasons I decided to run for president – despite knowing about the ridiculousness of the Student Association – was because I believed I could help reduce the level of toolishness that currently exists. At least 1630 others agreed. Unfortunately, each of those students was denied the candidate of their choice, for of all things, a made-up rule and a 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If there is to be any lesson from my getting kicked off the ballot it should be that clearly reform is needed. The SA “Constitution” should not be longer than the U.S. Constitution. Maybe it is time to break off the Law School and have the Student Bar Association govern themselves. Maybe it is time to drastically reduce the size of the senate. Maybe it is time to get rid of the Joint Elections Committee since it clearly cannot handle an election.

Of course, we do not have to overhaul the SA, but if we choose not to, we need to make sure we remember that choice. Remember how the SA was given $650,000 to deny Bhangra Blowout and (insert your organization) with. Remember how the SA spent 2008-2009 building a parade float and planning a dance that you probably didn’t attend. Surely we can continue to eat depressingly at J Street, go broke at the bookstore and read about the petty SA drama in The Hatchet, but we need to make sure we remember a choice exists.

It’s not just GW

Georgetown University sophomore Molly Redden is blog editor for the Georgetown Voice.

GW’s SA election looked a lot like this year’s Georgetown University Student Association election. In each case, I thought it was too bad that a couple of campaign snafus caused everyone in student government to go ape over bylaws. I think most candidates for student government are well-meaning little Clintons who just want to make their school a better place, and we should let them get on with it, as long as they avoid breaking campaigning bylaws in a really egregious way (if Kyle Boyer had put his face on a billboard, say, that would have been a problem). At the same time, I found GW’s “three-ring circus” highly entertaining, and that’s saying something. Vishal Aswani set the bar pretty high.

A lack of information

Veronica Rivas and Nicole Najjar are freshmen.

We never actually knew about the elections until the whole Kyle Boyer issue sparked. As freshmen, we feel we didn’t receive enough, or really any information, about the election and its candidates. The only reference we had the elections were taking place was the students advertising their candidates by giving out candies and flyers.

When the election arrived, we didn’t know about the candidates, their backgrounds or their future goals. We were the ones who had to find the information about the candidates since we didn’t have knowledge about any of the election details. The articles in The Hatchet provided us with a little bit of information about the situation in the Student Association election.

However, there was a clear lack of motivation within the candidate pool in differentiating themselves from the others. We believe that the SA, being one of the most important organizations, failed to gain enough student attention.

Putting it in perspective

Senior Brand Kroeger is a judge of the Student Court and last year’s executive vice-president.

GW student elections always bring out the best and worst in people. I always hope we get a little more of the best.

The first thing that people involved with these elections must remember is that we are students! This isn’t President Obama, the U.S. Senate or the Supreme Court (as much as many would like it to be). The Student Association should be about students advocating for other students. As such, the election process should focus on students as well. Not political positioning, blog bashing, intricate rules, ad hoc committees or grandstanding.

When people take themselves too seriously they distance themselves from the student body and they make bad decisions. Assessing election violations for bizarre reasons only hurts the student body. It benefits no one, belittles some, alienates many and disenfranchises countless others. Rules should be followed, but when the rules are abstract or inconclusive, one should err on the side of students and not incoherent bureaucracy.

I’ve voted in these elections, I’ve run in these elections and I was blessed to work in the SA. I always hope and pray for the organization’s success. But after a contentious election, it is always harder to make things work. Git ‘er dun, Julie. I know you can.

Tough but fair

Sophomore Logan Dobson is a Student Association senator (CCAS-U) and blogs at Inside the SA.

I can think of very few people who wanted the election to turn out the way it did. Kyle Boyer was an extremely popular candidate with a lot of support from many members of the GW community. Very few people were happy with the way that the situation turned out, but, in the end, the Joint Elections Committee and the Student Court made the tough, but correct, call.

We have election rules to make elections fairer. If one is to have rules, there must be punishments for breaking those rules. In the end, the punishments must include a disqualification from the ballot. If disqualification is not an option, there is little incentive for any candidate to follow the rules.

It became clear, despite his many arguments to the contrary, that Kyle had broken these election rules enough times to merit a disqualification. The decision was, no doubt, a hard one to make. The JEC took many hours deliberating this decision, and, when it was appealed, the court was similarly deliberate in their actions. The punishment matched the infringements, and the right call was made.

Moving forward

Sophomore Jason Lifton, next year’s SA executive vice president, is the vice president of community affairs.

Now that a somewhat crazy election cycle has finally come to a close, its time that we take a look at exactly what has happened. As everyone saw, Kyle Boyer got a huge vote margin in the general election, yet was unable to participate in the runoff election. The JEC decided that there was adequate evidence to throw him off the ballot. Yes, Kyle did break the rules. According to this year’s 17 page rule book, Kyle made a mistake and didn’t declare the fair market value of his car and he suffered the consequences.

Next year we must work on election reform and write rules that people can follow without having such problems. All of that being said, Julie Bindelglass is our new president, regardless of whether your supported Kyle, Nick or anyone else, she’s it. I can promise everyone that she and I will work hard to do the best job that we can possibly do in the upcoming year.

Due to an editing error, Boyer’s narrative in the print edition said students in the Law School govern themselves through the “Student Business Association.” Boyer suggested they govern themselves through the Student Bar Association.

Readers can visit the Forum to comment on these reactions.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.