Thank You, SBA Candidates, for Caring
Are you pumped for the Student Bar Association (“SBA”) elections? Then I presume either you, or your best friend, are running for an office.
I was asked to write about general student body apathy regarding the SBA elections, which highlighted for me the extent of my own personal indifference. (Please no one tell my good friend who is running; I obviously wish that person all the best.)
The reasons for that indifference are minorly perplexing. Proving a negative is near to impossible and through this exercise I am finding that explaining one is not necessarily much easier. Why don’t I care? I searched the inner confines of my ...apathetic-ness (?) and came up rather empty.
I reflected back to my undergraduate days when I knew multitudes of people uninterested in voting for elected officials of all sorts. I witnessed strenuous and relatively costly efforts to run for student body president fail spectacularly—full on with elections fraud and impeachments. The corruption was sufficient to make those not involved directly toss up their hands and walk away. And I also recall the members of my community service corps similarly throwing up their hands at national elections, firmly believing that no candidate would invest in things that really mattered, namely programs for the poor.
These people shared an overwhelming sense that politics and elections are only for the people directly involved in the system. I never liked that perspective, but I understand it partially derives from seeing little to no effect from the efforts of the governing body.
This leads back to present day and wondering about what the SBA actually does. I have to confess that before researching this question for this article, I have only a vague idea. Theresa always seems busy toiling on our behalf, and she sends out handy e-mails about events around the law school. They host social events of many different sorts. They liaison with the administration, the Career Development Office, etc. They coordinate all funding for student groups, which apparently includes petitioning the larger GWU community to request our funding levels.
These are important things, and so I am thankful that someone wants to step up to be responsible. It is reminiscent of when someone volunteers to coordinate the office holiday party. Everyone else says thank you and then runs the other way.
And so from the outside where the rest of us are, anyone who steps up is relatively similar to anyone else who is stepping up. They will liaison with administration. They will coordinate funding for student groups.
The student body needs our representatives and relies heavily on the work that they do. There is little reason to think, however, that SBA functioning will ever be different than it was the year before. It seems inevitable that student groups will get funding based on the funding they had the year before. It seems inevitable that there will be a Halloween party, a ski-trip, and the other social events will likely remain similarly static.
And, much to my endless dismay, the de facto promotion of student groups weekly purchasing Dominos pizza due to the SBA’s exclusive arrangement with that corporation will remain. I resent this situation more than anything else about the SBA, but not enough that I have gotten involved.
In the end, I do not believe that anything will change regardless of who wins the SBA elections. We will have dedicated people on which we will rely who will step up to do the necessary work that the rest of us apparently eschew. We won’t know exactly what they do, but we should say thank you. Unfortunately, this perspective doesn’t help promote voting for one volunteer over another. It simply makes me wonder why we cannot find more ways to capitalize on the interest of every candidate who steps forward to serve our collective interests.