Dan Grover: Debating the use of satire in student elections

We’re all familiar with satire. From a Mark Twain novel to The Colbert Report, satire acts as an effective way to criticize and draw attention to society’s flaws. At its best, satire illustrates caricatures of ourselves that are so accurate we cannot help but laugh.

And satire was the cornerstone of “King” Hugo Scheckter’s campaign for Student Association president, when he ran on the platform of turning the SA into a monarchy.

Scheckter’s satirical campaign was at once hilarious and insulting, witty and rude, refreshing and obnoxious. But regardless of what you think of him, we would be doing ourselves a great disservice if we merely dismissed “King Hugo” as an arrogant jackass or attention-seeker.

Scheckter’s satire makes a great point: As he said in his closing remarks at the Student Media Debate Tuesday night, students should never be afraid to say “no” to an administration that doesn’t always listen to our concerns. As students, we must be bold.

University policy impacts us greatly. But all too often, the SA representatives only nod their heads meekly while administrators steamroll them in their haste to implement new plans and policies.

As Scheckter emphasized, it doesn’t make sense for the University to implement something that doesn’t help students or something overwhelmingly unpopular. If a university ceases to take the interests of its major beneficiaries in mind, then it has seriously failed to do its job.

Scheckter pointed to the construction of the GW Museum, which will partner with the Textile Museum, as an example of the University’s failure to provide for students, especially at a time when students are complaining they do not have enough space on campus.

But even if you don’t take issue with the museum, I’m certain all students can think of at least one instance when administrators have frustrated them, whether it’s through the noisy, early morning construction or J Street’s high prices.

Of course, getting the entire student body to actually agree on something is an impossible task. That’s why we have SA representatives in the first place – to represent our collective views to the best of their ability ­– and it would be ludicrous to expect administrators to respond to our every gripe.

However, if an administrative move is widely unpopular, SA leaders should not let it pass without a fight. Students must find creative ways to urge the University to address student needs.

Scheckter’s slogan read “GW doesn’t care about students. Neither does King Hugo.” If nothing else, students should take his campaign as a signal to speak out when they feel their opinions no longer have weight.

Granted, at the end of the day, we’re all just students. We don’t have the experience or power of administrators or trustees. But we have numbers, and we have voices. If we rise up and communicate our problems to the SA, and the SA in turn demonstrates those problems to the University, we cannot be ignored.

So let’s take Scheckter’s advice to heart. He may not be representing us as SA president next year, but we can still make our voices heard. We just have to yell loudly enough.

Dan Grover, a freshman majoring in English, is a Hatchet columnist.

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