Updated: March 14, 2022 at 8:41 p.m.
After announcing their runs largely focused on in-person campaigning, none of the contenders for Student Association president or vice president showed up at the annual postering day to kick off the official campaign period Thursday morning.
Presidential, vice presidential and senatorial candidates running to serve in the SA have rushed to hang up posters on campus to launch their campaigns as part of a tradition that has lasted for decades. But despite starting one hour later than previous years, only two senate candidates participated in the event, marking the lowest turnout in recent memory.
Trip Johnson, the chair of the Joint Elections Commission, said the JEC sent an email notifying candidates of the postering day tradition Monday and reminded them about the event at their mandatory candidate meetings Tuesday and Wednesday. He said he pushed the start time to 9 a.m., which he thought would make it easier for candidates to attend than previous years when postering started at 8 a.m.
“We’re seeing posters going up, and I definitely expect more of those to come from the start of today all the way through the actual election because spring break is starting tomorrow, so I don’t think that’s why we see as many today,” Johnson said in an interview Thursday.
SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U, who is running for reelection, was the only candidate who appeared to hang posters on campus after Thursday, with two signs plastered near the University Student Center’s H Street entrance.
SA presidential candidate Christian Zidouemba and four of the 21 SA Senate candidates are the only students running for office who attended GW when the last postering day took place in March 2020. Since then, SA election campaigning has remained virtual because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic during the past two years.
Johnson said many candidates may not have attended the postering day because they might have already left for spring break. At Thursday’s event, he said candidates would likely hang up posters the following day, but many will wait until after spring break.
“Seeing the social media accounts, seeing the websites going live, seeing all of the different tools and places that people will be campaigning is what voters need to be aware of so that they can stay most informed,” Johnson said.
A total of four students are running for SA president or vice president, and 21 are running for the senate, according to the official list of SA candidates that the JEC published Friday. Seats representing eight of GW’s schools currently lack candidates, including graduate positions for the Milken Institute School of Public Health and the Elliott School of International Affairs, according to the list.
The JEC extended the registration period Monday for candidates in 15 senate races with open seats.
Rami Hanash Jr., a freshman running for the School of Business undergraduate senate seat, said he was surprised by the low turnout at the beginning of campaign season. He said he plans to use relationships within business student organizations and the SA to achieve his campaign goals, like enhancing the business school’s development program – a series of career-building courses on lessons like how to improve resumes and job interview skills.
“First recognition is everything,” he said. “I don’t know why there aren’t more people out here, but it is what it is.”
Demetrius Apostolis, a freshman running for a Columbian College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate seat, said even though his race lacks competition with seven candidates running for seven seats, he wanted to poster to launch the campaign period to serve students to his best ability.
“It’s about serving the students,” Apostolis said. “I think being out here at 9 a.m. is the opportunity to allow students to see your message and being able to put the best foot forward.”
This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet initially misspelled Zidouemba’s last name. The correct spelling is now reflected. We regret this error.