Though his death in 1616 places him approximately 350 years before the modern GUSA era, it is a pity that William Shakespeare never had the chance to witness the annual, gleefully nauseating ritual that is the GUSA executive election season.
Just think of it: the Bard and power-hungry Richard III would have worked perfectly for our current slate of candidates.
Sure, our current race for power here at Georgetown lacks much of the incest, infanticide and secret prophecy that made “Henry VI” and “Richard III” so charming. But what we lack in infanticide our current slate of candidates doubtless makes up in ego, vanity and hearty, red-blooded lust for attention.
Analyzed critically, the most dispiriting thing about the annual Georgetown University Student Association scrum is not the endless assault on freshman halls for easy votes, or even the paltry platforms put out by a few of this year’s candidates — some have less policy recommendation than a grocery list. Instead, it’s the spectacle of watching a good deal of time, energy and effort expended on winning a position that is meaningless on the whole.
GUSA’s tangible power lies entirely in the pot of money that it doles out to student boards and groups once a year, like a cymbal player who has exactly one note to play in a symphony. Beyond that, the work of GUSA seems to limit whatever disastrous idea has occurred to Our Dear Leader Dr. Todd Olson, whether it is a satellite campus, four-year housing requirement or hiring a small boy in livery to blow a bugle anytime Olson enters a room.
GUSA’s nuclear option, of course, is to hold a nonbinding referendum protesting something, which in recent years had become an annual passion play to which you could practically set your watch to. However, as if to demonstrate the true powerlessness of GUSA, our current administration has failed even to achieve that much. (Take heart, Trevor, Omika: perhaps there is still time for a university-wide referendum on some truly pressing issue that students can rally around, such as whether Tuscany’s Pizza should be revived, or if President DeGioia resembles Admiral Ackbar from “Return of the Jedi)”.
But something truly earth-shaking has happened to interrupt the beauty pageant of hacks this year. And to borrow a phrase, now is the winter of our GUSA discontent made glorious summer by two sons of Improv.
The Joe Luther-Connor Rohan ticket’s entry into the race has been hilarious, and there are few people on this campus who cannot confess to having watched their debut video or read their platform (#tunneltopia) and laughed louder than was socially appropriate on Lau 5.
If Connor and Joe cruise to victory, as we believe they should, whether or not they achieve their mission to create a chivalric order of knights to establish social justice throughout the realm is irrelevant.
By winning a pointless election with an almost entirely pointless campaign, they will have already made a larger statement about Georgetown and its micropolitics than any of the other candidates can dream of.
As an aside, it’s worth noting that the Luther-Rohan platform is almost a parody, but not entirely. In what has been the hardest and most important year in recent memory for mental health issues on this campus, it is telling that it is the joke campaign that has put forward the most earnest, dynamic, and effective proposals to improve mental health provision and care on this campus. Perhaps as a joke campaign, they have more license to deal with such issues; other candidates should take note.
Talking to people on this campus, you’ll find a lot of people who have gone from laughing at Joe and Connor to thinking they’ll rank them second or third to realizing that hell, they really do want them to win. It’s not without precedent; Harvard and Oxford Universities both delivered joke campaigns to power in their student governments last year, with Oxford’s winning ticket promising the construction of a citywide monorail system to ferry students around (no such monorail, yet, but many laughs). And if Joe and Connor do take the reins, well, GUSA meetings will be a lot more interesting than they’ve ever been previously.
In the end, the fact that in the space of a few days a hastily planned joke campaign now appears to be one of the more viable tickets in the race says more about other tickets than it does about Joe and Connor’s wit. If a serious ticket wants to win this year, they will have to convince voters not just that they’re the best women and men to do the job, but that the job actually matters in the first place.
If not, they should consider their campaigns already resigned to the terrifying Jesuit necropolis that our future leaders Connor and Joe have promised to demolish.
Tucker Cholvin and Thomas Christiansen are seniors in the School of Foreign Service. Culture Clash appears every other Tuesday.