Thursday, March 20, 2008

I thought students at GW approached campaigns and elections seriously, but I may be crazy

I really did think that.

I know that the SA elections are over and I am not here to pontificate on the results, lament the loser or even praise the winner. There is much work to be done and the Aswani administration will be coming in, like it or not. But I am not going to even talk about how many are either satisfied or dismayed by this reality. Rather, I want to point to one incident that happened to me during campaign season.

Just over a week ago I received the following email:
At 22 and F, we're all about real parties for real students without all the bullshit. While we normally don't get involved in politics, we wanted to let you know that we have officially endorsed Kevin Kozlowski for SA President.

We not only need a student leader who can get the job done, but someone who is a real student and knows how to have a good time. Kevin will make sure that partying on campus is easier than ever, and will have an open ear to the GW social scene.

Check out his website at

No matter what - be sure to go online TODAY to vote for Kevin at It takes just three seconds and you can do it from home.

We hope everyone has a great Spring Break! Don't forget to vote TODAY!
And I was incensed. I even sent an email back (which I am sure was promptly deleted, if read at all) saying that in my judgment that was not a sufficient criterion for someone to earn my vote. To be clear, I do not think that the mainstream GW community thinks like the person that wrote that email; in fact, I am sure that at our University where we hold our standards high, most people did carefully consider their vote when they went online to cast it.

But I am equally sure that there are those who did not carefully consider their vote and instead relied on this endorsement when making their decision. Is that not regrettable? Since when did an endorsement from a party promoter become a valid determinant of a vote for something like the Student Association (which does have a significant impact on student life at GW despite what you may hear)? I am not saying that the opinions of party promoters are not valid, because they certainly are. But we should not hear and the honor endorsements from them as representatives of organizations whose concern, while it may deal with student life and entertainment, is not exactly the most pressing. Certainly not pressing enough for me to vote based on what they believe or articulate.

I guess in the fashionable and all-too-often self-aggrandizing culture of GW these endorsements apparently do matter. But their candidate did not win, and so I am not convinced that many people heeded their email. I would love to believe that no one did, but I am not sure of this either and I cannot prove it definitively.

If anyone thinks I am nagging or trying to proclaim my own moral superiority, well, then, I direct you to two things. First, 22 and F Productions' website. They state that their mission is to target people who are:
looking for the hottest parties, bottle service, and sickest events, without all the run-around.
Sure, entertainment does relate to student life, as I said before. I am not going to ignore the fact that, yes, students naturally pursue entertainment, especially when they find themselves surrounded by a city that is capable of offering it to them. To deny this would just be stupid. But one such institution in the city, however, that does not offer entertainment, at least not the kind that students find in clubs, is the Student Association.

So it does not makes sense to me that 22 and F productions would endorse a candidate for the SA election since it does not have a stake in the outcome of that election. Come on, this is what you learn about in basic high-school level government courses: stakeholders and players. The SA is a player, but 22 and F is not a stakeholder and therefore should not concern itself with the player really at all.

22 and F Productions is not a stakeholder because it is not affected by the SA and does not fall under its oversight. Unlike myself, who works for an academic program that is subject to University regulations and decisions, the party promoters of 22 and F are not University employees. Their endorsement is an example of unsolicited involvement in an SA election that would be analogous to involvement by any other off-campus organization that is not affiliated with the University. And students obviously do not need any other off-campus organization to unjustly interfere with the SA election, so why not apply the same standard to 22 and F?

Besides, by its own admission, 22 and F Productions says:

We normally don't get involved in politics.
before it made its "official" endorsement. As if it was so important that this time, just this once, it had to get involved in the political process.

As a call to action, I would request that anyone interested in this email 22 and F Productions as I did with a very simple note: that their "endorsement" is inappropriate given that it is made as an exception and not as part of a consistent practice and also because it is made from an organization that is not regulated by the SA. It does not have to be a very long note, but it should be a jab at the promoters who think that they have the credibility to make an endorsement.

Let them know that the SA is an organization dedicated to solving serious issues at GW. It is not - and will never become - another marketing arm of a party promoter.

Oh, and one other thing. Be careful that you address your reply to The reply feature to their automatic email that I received is constituted in such a way that your reply is sent to an address that automatically bounces it back to you. I knew this when I realized that my reply was not sent to but rather to ""

Talk about credibility.

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