Both candidates for executive vice president of the Student Association exhibited a dedication to student issues as well as a strong commitment to improving students’ lives at GW.
But after meeting with each of the students, The Hatchet’s editorial board endorses junior Kostas Skordalos, a humble leader with concrete, attainable goals.
In the hearings, Skordalos demonstrated his interest in relevant student issues, one of which is heightening awareness of sexual assault. As a founder and co-president of GW’s Men of Strength chapter and an active member of Students Against Sexual Assault, it is clear that this is an issue that he is both passionate and knowledgeable about.
Sexual violence is a problem that permeates college campuses nationally, including GW. In his endorsement hearing, Skordalos said he views the SA as the ideal platform for advocating for sexual assault awareness. We find it encouraging to see a candidate so dedicated to student safety.
GW’s statute of limitations within which sexual assault victims can file action against an alleged perpetrator was set at 180 days under a draft policy implemented last September.
The administration is now working to extend that time period to a year and a half – a time frame Skordalos called insufficient. In a move to benefit victims, who may not be ready to come forward after a traumatic incident within a limited time window, he pledged to continue lobbying to remove the statute of limitations altogether.
His experience working with administrators would aid the SA not just on this issue, but on all initiatives.
Student space has been an issue on candidates’ platforms for the past two years. But Skordalos’ approach to the issue has promise.
He articulated a timeline for his student space plan which included short-term goals such as reorganizing space in the Ivory Tower basement, intermediate goals like giving students active roles in decorating and redesigning common areas in residence halls and long-term goals such as ensuring students receive adequate space in the new “superdorm” and in the Marvin Center. These are not new ideas, but they proved that Skordalos recognizes feasible steps to increase student space.
He is pragmatic about the scope of his responsibilities as a student advocate. For example, while he admitted it may be out of his reach to attempt to change University Police Department protocol, he expressed a desire to work hard in other, more attainable capacities, like building a stronger sense of community on campus through outreach to student organization leaders.
The executive vice president is the top leader of the SA Senate. In the past, the senate has been accused of apathy, and it is the executive vice president’s job to rally the senators to work on meaningful legislation. Skordalos’ focus on open dialogue with the senators will serve the SA well. He expressed a willingness to meet with student groups and SA senators immediately to learn their individual goals and ensure productivity.
Skordalos does not crave the spotlight. He said he would prefer to work behind the scenes lobbying the administration and organizing student leaders to achieve their goals. It was refreshing to hear that Skordalos’ desire to do substantive work outweighed any wish to become a campus celebrity.
His smaller-scale ideas to increase student space and support for sexual assault victims seem attainable in the span of a one-year term.
Skordalos’ opponent, Mike Adam, was equally passionate about student issues during his hearing. The strongest portion of his campaign platform was a call for the SA to help pull in outside grants for student organizations that need funding beyond their allocations from the University. This represents an immediate solution to a persistent problem.
Like many SA candidates, Adam would like to see more campus space allocated for student use. He expressed interest in finding ways to renovate existing areas in campus residence halls. This has been mentioned by past student leaders and is a worthy goal.
But when it came to the rest of his platform, there were clear flaws in his logic. He stated that he is interested in increasing funding for umbrella and Greek organizations, but he failed to identify the areas that would see cuts to compensate for those funds.
He also stumbled over his words and proved to appear uncomfortable in stressful situations. This leads the editorial board to wonder whether or not he would make an effective leader of the senate, which has garnered the reputation in the past of being inefficient.
He was clearly enthusiastic and would be a good team player, but we question his ability to lead. He even admitted that large portions of his platform were politically calculated – not based on his areas of personal expertise or experience, but rather on areas that he thought would drive students to mark his name on their ballots.
Of the two, Skordalos is the most likely to turn his ideas and passions into a reality that would benefit the entire student body, and we are confident he would find success next year as the SA’s second-highest lobbyist.
Vote Skordalos for SA executive vice president Wednesday or Thursday.
This article appeared in the March 21, 2013 issue of the Hatchet.