Diamond's campaign has revealed some students' true feelings
The GW Memes page blew up in response to the drama of presidential candidate being disqualified from the 2017 Student Association Election. It functioned as a response to the election. It only makes sense that this SA Election Cycle, it became the launching point for a drama that is still unfolding.
Three days before voting was set to take place in an election that had been fairly quiet, Freshman Justin Diamond launched a write-in campaign on the memes page. His platform was simple: he wanted to abolish the SA. He last ditch effort split the nearly 5,000 votes and forced a runoff election between himself and SJ Matthews, as they were the two front-runners after no candidate got the required 40 percent of the votes.
Diamond’s campaign has been dismissed by many as a joke, with some saying his supporters are just those looking for a good laugh. However, Diamond’s campaign has shown one obvious fact: many people either don’t care about the SA or actively dislike the SA.
It’s been said that every funny joke has a grain of truth tucked away in its punchline. The same can be said here. The memes about the hatred for the SA are only funny because deep down, many students actively have issues with the organization. It’s not hard to see why.
The Student Association has a list of priorities on their website, including things such as the Vern Experience, Graduate Student Experience, or health services. However, there has been little to no legislation regarding these alleged “priorities” this cycle.
It’s hard to feel like the SA is actually working for the student body when so few students are able to see the outcomes of anything. It is a rare sight to see a bill come before the SA Senate that can create lasting change, and the answer to why is fairly simple: the SA has very little real power. Most of what they are capable of are passing bills that ask the University to do something. Based on the fact that GW is still using fossil fuels, despite SA’s legislation to encourage change, I think we can all see that the University rarely listens.
Diamond’s platform has resonated with people because they see an SA President taking a stipend off their tuition while some student organizations are struggling for funding.
Some in the SA work very hard. I’ve been to the SA Senate meetings; they can often last long into the night and become tiring for all involved. However, the students aren’t seeing the results of those long hours, and at the end of the day isn’t that supposed to be the point of the SA? Improving the lives of students?
I’m in no way endorsing Diamond or his platform. Abolishing the SA altogether is the most extreme action that can be taken, while there is still a chance to reform what is already there. A lot of students put a lot of work into forming the Student Association we have now, and it might be better to take a more light approach in trying to re-purpose what already exists to better suit the student body.
What I am saying, however, is that whether Matthews or Diamond wins, Diamond’s platform has made plain how much distaste there is for the SA. Matthews, who garnered the most votes of on-the-ballot candidates, mentioned the need for more accessibility and transparency in her platform. The belief that the SA is far removed from the students it served is common among the student body, and the future President and Senators can no longer ignore these feelings.
I implore them to make it a priority to connect the student body to the organization, because if they don’t, it’s only a matter of time until another candidate runs for President with the same platform as Diamond, and the support for them will only grow as long as these feelings of resentment continue to fester.
Editor’s note: This piece is opinion in nature and do not reflect the views of The Rival. The Rival GW does not issue endorsements for student elections.