Josh Akman: Relishing the irrelevance

The Student Association is trying to pass a new constitution. I hadn’t thought much about it before last week, when a harried, frazzled SA representative came up to me in J Street. The exchange went something like this:

Harried, Frazzled Rep – Can you sign this petition?

Me – What’s it for?

Harried, Frazzled – It’s for the new SA constitution.

Me – Why do they want a new SA constitution?

Harried, Frazzled – To better fight for students rights.

Me – Who are they fighting against?

Harried, Frazzled – (Awkward silence… walks away)

This exciting exchange taught me two important lessons. First, an alarming percentage of my daily conversations end in an awkward silence. Second, I have no idea what the SA actually does. As a senior, how is it that I really don’t have any idea what it does? Is it my fault? I don’t think so. As someone who prides myself on knowing what’s happening on campus – I write for The Hatchet, I read my Infomail, I watch Melinda-robics on GWTV – I think I generally have a pretty good handle on what goes on.

Every year, our campus gets geared up for SA elections. We have endorsement hearings, debates, run-off elections, and online voting. Even still, we don’t know very much about the actual elections. All I know is that the guy I voted for SA president last year lost because he didn’t accurately report the cost of a friend’s car he borrowed for Election Day. Even sadder than how our SA presidency was decided by the winner’s failure to report the price of his buddy’s car is that, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. We can go through four years at GW without ever knowing what the SA actually does, and probably won’t miss a thing. This raises the question: Is the SA irrelevant?

To its credit, the SA is not taking its perceived irrelevance lying down. The current administration is operating ourgwsa.com, a site that serves as a “…one stop for all the resources that the Student Association has to offer.” While the site is a bit confusing, it’s a great step. The SA is acknowledging its perception, and making a concerted attempt at establishing its importance. Maybe it can continue this momentum of focusing on the real issues that students deal with.

This brings us to the current controversy over the new constitution. According to a recent Hatchet article: “Under the currently proposed constitution, the president and executive vice president would run for office together on the same ticket, the three non-voting freshman senate seats would be eliminated, and a new speaker of the senate position would preside over the senate instead of the EVP.” So, if you’re keeping score at home, that’s who cares, who cares and who cares. This is when the SA becomes responsible for its own irrelevance. I wonder how much time they spent working on this constitution that seems to affect students’ lives so little. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the SA (and launched a few myself), and none of them have been centered around the way freshmen are represented, or who actually presides over the Senate.

The SA needs to be careful – if they keep spinning their wheels on things that don’t matter, they run the risk of being cemented in their reputation as irrelevant. If they continue with the momentum of ourgwsa.com, they might be able to prove their worth. Maybe they can even become a valued resource on campus.

So, SA, it’s up to you. Start focusing on things that matter, or forever wallow in your reputation as useless. Your call.

The writer, a senior majoring in criminal justice, is a Hatchet columnist.

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