All of the candidates for Student Association executive vice president this year demonstrate an impressive knowledge of the issues facing students and all of them appear qualified.
Unlike previous years, there were no candidates who blatantly lacked an understanding of what the role of the EVP entails. Similarly, no candidate seemed unaware of what students care about and all addressed the important role of student organizations.
Our endorsement comes down to who we thought would lead the SA Senate best. In that vein, we endorse Ted Costigan for executive vice president of the SA.
Costigan’s comprehensive platform during the Hatchet-SA Debate, knowledge of the SA Senate and willingness to press administrators made him our first choice for the position. Furthermore, he demonstrated an incomparable passion for student advocacy. When asked for specifics of his platform – which was made up of ideas ranging from lowering costs to adding a Naval studies minor – he exhibited an understanding of what students want and what he could achieve in his position. While we would have liked to see even more specifics about how he wants to achieve his goals, he did show that he knows what GW needs to address and how administrators operate.
A common misconception about the EVP is that he or she is simply another lobbyist in the SA, but Costigan noted that as EVP he will be managing the SA Senate and relaying information directly from senators and students to the SA president. An EVP’s ability to keep control of the SA Senate is also key, and we believe he will likely be the candidate who will be most successful in that regard.
We also noted Costigan’s passion for advocating on behalf of students. He is not afraid to be controversial and fight with the University on issues that students want to see changed, though we note that this unconventional method could have setbacks if he comes off too bombastic.
It also seems as though many aspects of his campaign, and even one issue in his platform, feel political. The Gelman Printing Cost Protest was conveniently scheduled just days before students vote and such issues on his platform like FixIt appear to be campaign gimmicks. We also have serious concerns, after watching him in the debate, that Costigan’s fighter attitude will turn into a joke. Costigan, you are passionate and energetic, but please don’t let that cross over into a gimmick.
Zahin Hasan also knows how the executive vice presidential role is supposed to function and he offers a notable knowledge of what students want. Hasan brings valuable level-headedness and a critical eye to student lobbying.
During the debate, Hasan demonstrated an understanding of not only the ways in which he wants to achieve certain goals, but also the limitations the University places on achieving those goals. For example, in his discussion of study space, he stated that he wanted to open buildings like Duques Hall more often to students for studying, but that this could be a potentially expensive endeavor involving security and housekeeping concerns for that building. Although Hasan overall showed himself to be a reasonable and straightforward candidate, we had hoped that Hasan’s platform would have better exemplified his pragmatic outlook.
Though he demonstrated an understanding of the issues, his platform did not necessarily reflect that and it was neither as comprehensive nor as specific as we had hoped.
Aria Varasteh’s greatest strength in his campaign for EVP may also double as his greatest weakness. It was refreshing and interesting to have a candidate hone in on the specific role of working with student orgs and his detailed platform laid out an effective method of completing his goal. That said, we worry that his focus is almost too narrow, and that he has not fully demonstrated an understanding of bigger issues that the everyday student faces.
Varasteh’s plan for finance allocations to ensure that the SA does not run out of funds before the second semester of next year was truly impressive. He clearly had a very deep understanding of the allocation and co-sponsorship process and the way in which student orgs work with the SA. He was not able to identify enough of the other issues to tackle, however, and ultimately lacked the critical eye the EVP needs in addressing the larger student concerns, such as the quality of J Street.
Amanda Galonek, a longtime SA senator, offered valuable insight into the SA, but simply proved underwhelming in her understanding of student issues. When pressed for more details on her vague platform, she glossed over points, and her expectations seemed somewhat unrealistic as to what she could accomplish in the role, such as managing the SA Senate by working to foster a greater sense of camaraderie among senators.
Galonek does offer firsthand knowledge of the SA’s second top spot, as she served as the chair of the SA Senate Rules Committee. She would also offer continuity to the advocacy we have seen from the senate this year. She also has taken great initiative to get the ball rolling on some issues, including the effort to minimize GWireless timeouts and problems with this central campus technology.
Samantha Free simply did not demonstrate a comprehensive enough understanding of the student body, the University and how the SA operates. This knowledge is of course vital to whoever the students elect to EVP.
Free was extremely energetic and charismatic, and was able to offer a laudable idea in the form of grant writing for student organizations. Org leaders could utilize this skill to try to obtain more funding, and student orgs should definitely have the opportunity to work with the SA to learn to write grants.
We believe as a whole, the pool for EVP is impressive. All of the candidates have numerous strengths but we confidently believe that Ted Costigan is the best choice for SA executive vice president. u