SBA Election Campaign Season Underway
2011 Spring Elections for the Student Bar Association (“SBA”) are imminent. In addition to section Senators, students will also elect their next SBA President and Executive Vice President on February 23. You are expected to make your voice heard.
The SBA, like the federal government, is separated into three branches: the Legislative, the Executive, and the Judiciary.
Senators, the President, and the Executive Vice President are elected by the student body at large. The Judiciary—a constitutionally mandated Supreme Court made up of five appointed student “judges,” including a chief judge—interprets the SBA’s Constitution and Bylaws, both of which are available for review at www.gwsba.com.
In addition, the President is empowered to make several executive appointments, including Chief of Staff, Vice President of Finance, Vice President of Student Affairs, and Vice President of First Year Students.
“Voter turnout last semester was excellent,” said Elyssa Tanenbaum, Director of Elections. “The students really seem to care about their candidates.”
This spring, with the graduation of current SBA President (and former Fargo, North Dakota reporter) Theresa Bowman, the presidential vote is split between two incumbent Senators: Dean Aynechi and Nick Nikic. Janet Kang, Katie John, and Leonard Rubin will compete for the position of Executive Vice President.
Several issues and platforms have already emerged in the races. Some of these are not new. For instance, monitoring of the graded Legal Research and Writing program and the recognized desire for an improved Career Development Office are issues past candidates have repeatedly discussed and addressed.
There are new ideas too. For instance, the SBA stance on how the law school should respond to nation-wide concerns about the dissemination of misleading post-graduation employment statistics, and the possibility of implementing “flex” exam schedules, which would give students the freedom to set their own exam dates.
Other issues include ongoing concerns, such as budgetary policy, website maintenance, and student engagement and participation. And as always, every candidate insists upon the importance of listening to student concerns and grievances.
All campaign funding is to be paid out-of-pocket by each individual candidate. Senate hopefuls are precluded from spending more than $35.00 campaigning; executive candidates may spend up to $70.00. In addition, a rule bars candidates from making use of social media websites, such as Facebook, for the purposes of campaigning. Candidates are limited to G-chat for online voter outreach.
Regardless of which candidate one chooses, it is important that students vote. The activities of the SBA impact student life to a substantial degree, whether students realize it or not.
As our constitution says, the SBA exists to “establish justice and ensure the educational values of student life, provide a responsive forum for varying student viewpoints, encourage accountability among the students, faculty, administration, alumni and surrounding community, promote the general welfare of the student body, and secure a tradition of academic excellence and professional growth to ourselves and our successors…” As such, accountability and representation through the ballot box are imperative to the realization of these goals. Debates are scheduled for February 16. Additionally, please stay tuned for a special Nota Bene Elections Issue and candidate statements posted on the Nota Bene website. Finally, voting begins on February 23.