This year’s race for Student Association vice president comes down to two qualified, passionate and driven candidates, either of whom would do an outstanding job in the role. Both Kate Carpenter and Sofia Packer bring experience in the SA, detailed platforms with clear visions for GW and poignant personal motivations for seeking the vice presidency.
It is a close call, but students should cast their ballots for Kate Carpenter.
The editorial board felt that Carpenter’s platform and experience demonstrated the clearest vision of not only what needs to get done to make GW a better place but how to make it happen. Carpenter came prepared with a list of broad ideas of what is important, specific policies to make those ideas real and clear-cut plans for getting those policies enacted.
Her plans around mental health offer a good example of this thorough preparedness. She spoke personally and in detail about why students need better access to mental health care. Then, she listed off the specific policies she thought needed to be enacted to make that happen, including items as seemingly trivial as streamlining web pages to as broad as working with the Colonial Health Center to accept more health insurance providers. Carpenter then listed off specific administrators she’d already started having conversations with about actualizing these policies. Almost every one of her platform points followed this kind of model: Here’s why it’s important, here’s why it matters to me, here are all the small changes I will make and here’s how I’ll make it happen.
The editorial board was also encouraged by Carpenter’s involvement with the SA. The vice president role requires striking a balance between working with both sitting senators and officials. Carpenter demonstrated that she has constructive working relationships with all relevant parties right from the start.
One concern that has underpinned much of this year’s student body elections is how to address the disgust felt by many students toward the SA in light of the sexual misconduct allegations that led to the former SA president’s resignation. Both Carpenter and Packer made clear in no uncertain terms that the SA has a lot of work to do in gaining students’ trust again. Carpenter showed a unique insight into this problem and how to fix it. She’s experienced the SA’s dysfunction and insularity firsthand – her nomination to fill the then-vacant executive vice presidency was shot down by the SA behind closed doors. To remedy this huge disconnect and trust deficit between the organization and students, she’s proposed creating spaces where students can weigh in on the SA. Unstructured and unrestrained input from the student body is needed to hold the SA accountable, and Carpenter showed she understood that reality and wants to make it better.
A lot of additional negative sentiment around the SA, especially around election time, comes from the perception that some of its members think they’re acting out an episode of “The West Wing” or some other political TV show. It is true that sometimes SA campaigns can seem like vanity projects. But in this year’s race for vice president, that is firmly not the case. Both Carpenter and Packer have articulated crystal-clear reasons for running and have demonstrated that they care about doing the work, not just holding the position. That is hugely refreshing to see, especially at a moment when GW faces so many challenges. It is to both of their credit, and it benefits all GW students.
Packer laid out many strong points in her platform that are worth mentioning. She spoke with unique personal experience about why LGBTQ equity is non-negotiable for building a welcoming and safe University community. Packer’s platform also included a handful of important ideas that most other SA candidates either failed to mention or did not emphasize as much as she did. Most notably, Packer devoted an entire section of her platform to laying out broad sustainability goals, like phasing out single-use plastics, which was unique among SA executive branch candidates. Her discussion of why accessibility and graduate student inclusion are important was also far more in-depth than most other candidates, and it is disappointing that more candidates did not raise some of these topics as much.
GW is incredibly fortunate to have both Carpenter and Packer working to make change, because the University needs motivated student leaders who give a damn. On the whole, we believe that Carpenter brings specificity and experience that make her the best candidate for vice president, and we encourage GW students to support her at the virtual ballot box.
Recordings of the endorsement hearings are available here for Kate Carpenter and Sofia Packer.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Hannah Thacker and contributing opinions editor Andrew Sugrue, based on discussions with managing director Kiran Hoeffner-Shah, managing editor Parth Kotak, sports editor Emily Maise, culture editor Anna Boone and design editor Olivia Columbus.
This article appeared in the March 29, 2021 issue of the Hatchet.