JEC should postpone SA elections, allow for new presidential candidates

Cian Pallasch is a junior majoring in political science.

Given the Joint Elections Committee decision last week and former Student Association presidential candidate Lande Watson’s injunction yesterday, the JEC should postpone the SA election and allow time for new candidates to declare candidacies. Because the election is so soon, and Watson’s disqualification is so dramatic, students may vote based on controversy rather than on the remaining candidates’ platforms. This deprives either candidate of a meaningful victory, and those who supported Watson’s platform don’t have a comparable candidate to elect.

I understand that the JEC was following their rules and dealing with circumstances beyond their control when they disqualified Watson. But it is now the JEC’s job to repair the election by allowing new candidates to declare and run for SA president.

Nearly 30 student organizations and The Hatchet’s editorial board endorsed Watson. Watson also stood out from her opponents for her policy-focused platform. Before this controversy, students with comparable policy ideas – like those who endorsed Watson – wouldn’t have needed to run because Watson seemed like the frontrunner and would have represented their interests. But since her ousting, those nearly 30 students organizations and voters no longer have a comparable candidate to vote for – and one could emerge if new candidates were allowed to run.

As a student who planned to vote for Watson, I find myself left without a candidate who represents my ideas. Cole Ettingoff and Adam Johnson both have platforms that some students support. But even though I support Johnson’s plan for free mental health counseling for sexual assault survivors and Ettingoff’s call for more accessible academic advising, they both have platform points I cannot support. For example, Johnson’s electronic device policy and Ettingoff call to replace University employees with student workers don’t match up with my beliefs. Furthermore, their platforms are vague, which makes forcing students to choose between them concerning.

In order to allow time for new candidates to declare, the JEC would have to again push back the dates of elections. While this would be a difficult task, it’s a necessary one. As of today, we don’t know if Watson’s injunction will be granted or when the appeals process will begin. But it is unfair to the remaining candidates for the drama around the election to be what influences voters. We shouldn’t hurry the election under these unique circumstances. Instead, the JEC should allow more people into the race and focus on the issues facing the University and students, so the GW community can come together and vote for SA president when the time is right.

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