Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Students should vote yes on this year’s referendum

A referendum this year asks students whether they support granting the Student Government Association president and vice president a vote on the Board of Trustees.

We believe students should vote yes on this referendum. But first, they should understand what they’re voting for. The referendum doesn’t guarantee students will sit alongside the trustees who shape GW’s future. It’s a poll: Yes or no, do you think students should have voting power on the Board?

To put it simply: The Board matters a lot. For as much focus (or flak) officials like University President Ellen Granberg, Provost Chris Bracey or Dean of Students Colette Coleman receive on a day-to-day basis, it’s the Board that sets the overarching agenda. In whole or in part, the Board has had a role in retiring GW’s previous “Colonials” moniker, selecting Granberg to lead the University and arming GW Police Department officers. And all of that took place in just the past two years.

Giving students a literal seat at the table could change the outcome of future decisions. While students don’t currently have voting power on the Board, they do participate in it. SGA President Arielle Geismar briefs trustees and sits on the Board’s Committee on Academic Affairs, albeit as a nonvoting member. And last week, she said she was in the process of creating a student council that would meet with trustees.

But student lobbying can only sway the Board so much. The decision to discard the “Colonials” moniker came after years of student pushes, but similar victories are few and far between. That’s through no fault of student leaders themselves — sometimes what students need and administration want are simply misaligned.

But while student voices can be easily ignored, a “yea” or “nay” from a student member of the Board can never be fully disregarded. At the same time, the tangible inclusion of student representatives in every major decision is exactly why the plan is unlikely to come to fruition.

Assuming the referendum passes, the very Board that students want to change will have the final say over creating new, voting members. If trustees say anything at all, we suspect they’ll say “no.” In November, a University spokesperson told The Hatchet the Board wouldn’t consider a SGA resolution that requested it add voting members to the Board.

The failure of that resolution led to this year’s referendum, which we admit raises more questions than it answers. For instance, how can the SGA president and vice president really claim to represent the whole student body when so few students vote for them?

And yet, we still think the referendum deserves your support.

If you’re unhappy with how the University’s being run, use this vote to tell trustees how they’ve handled the past year or so. Remind them that you chose GW for a reason — and now you want to leave it better than you found it. Whatever your vision entails, it runs through the Board of Trustees.

The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by Opinions Editor Ethan Benn based on discussions with Contributing Culture Editor Jenna Baer, Editorials Assistant Paige Baratta, Contributing Social Media Director Anaya Bhatt, Contributing Opinions Editor Riley Goodfellow and Social Media Director Ethan Valliath.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet