This Friday marks the start of GW’s Student Association campaign season. This means that SA candidates will be out in full force across campus, tacking up posters, handing out flyers and talking with students. Regardless of your personal feelings about the SA, this is an important time for GW and the future of student interests.
The candidate pool for the SA’s two top spots are notably large this year – something this editorial board has supported in the past. Twelve candidates are vying for the position of SA president or executive vice president. Judging from their platforms, students will be able to choose from a wide spectrum of ideas, from abolishing the SA to making GW a fee-less University. Some candidates have been actively involved in the SA for years, others are very involved elsewhere on campus and some want to completely restructure the way students are represented at the University.
At this point, anyone could win depending on what students want from their representation.
When you see a candidate in Kogan, don’t avoid them. Take a flyer and ask them specifically how they want to achieve their goals. Talk to them about their ideas. Look at their campaign websites.
Remember that candidates can easily make sweeping generalizations about dining, or Gelman or student fees. Many SA candidates have promised to do so in the past. And many candidates may promise to do so in the future.
But no candidate can simply “fix dining.” He or she may be able to lobby the administration so the University considers student complaints when reviewing J Street. He or she may be able to work with architects to give students a voice in the designs for Gelman’s first-floor renovations. He or she may be able to offer administrators suggestions about how to lower fees. But they need to have specific plans to accomplish sweeping goals.
Similarly, don’t simply vote for the person you had a class with or for the candidate with the most interesting bio. Read up on what the candidates want to do, and take the time leading up to the election next week to learn more about how they will actually lobby for your interests.
As a whole, the SA’s role is two-fold. One is to lobby on behalf of the student body. This means speaking with administrators, learning about campus issues and staying informed of how students feel. The other is to allocate funding to student organizations for their academic year activities and events. Both roles are arguably very important. Yet sometimes, candidates do not campaign by saying, “I will talk to the right people to give you a voice in the matter.” Instead, many say, “I will fix your problems, if you get me elected.”
The legislative branch, made up of senators from the different schools on campus, is also tasked with these responsibilities. These senators are the ones who should be listening to your concerns about issues specifically related to your school or student organization. Hopefully, they will not be entangled in the internal rules that can mar a senate’s effectiveness. You can help prevent that by asking for their plans and how they want to accomplish their goals. You can prevent that by voting for the candid candidate.
For the next week, campus will become a whirlwind of posters, palm cards and platforms. It’s an exciting and important time for the University. And whether or not you love or hate the SA, these students could have an impact on your time at GW.
Each student senator or executive will enter his or her position with a great deal of potential energy. It is the voter’s job to ensure the best possible people are chosen to act upon that potential energy. We strongly encourage students to take the time to learn about these candidates in the upcoming days and make their choices accordingly next Wednesday and Thursday.