As the rowdy presidential field shrinks, Georgetown students are turning their attention to a new — and decidedly quieter — contest: the 2016-2017 Georgetown University Student Association executive race.
At this point last year, five tickets for GUSA president and vicepresident had formed, heralding one of the tightest and most chaotic election cycles in GUSA history. This year, by contrast, just one ticket has expressed interest in an executive run by attending a GUSA Election Commission information session, the second and last of which will be held this Tuesday, in advance of the race’s official Feb. 4 kickoff. A less crowded executive roster will surely be a change of pace for both candidates and voters; however, the prospect of an uncontested or undercontested race ought to concern those desiring a more unified and productive student body.
Most notably, a one- or two-ticket executive race would stifle the democratic process. By not having to prove their platform strength and political finesse in a series of competitive debates, winning tickets are likely to assume office untested and underprepared. While a slimmer field might in theory yield a less-fractured student body, the greater likelihood is that a one- or two-candidate race would only accelerate a trend of political disengagement among the student body.
Moreover, a sparsely populated ballot would affirm the notion that Georgetown students are absent, apathetic and politically acquiescent. As a consequence, student government leaders would be left with minimal leverage to defend the needs and wants of the student body it represents.
Perhaps, due to the success of the satirical Luther-Rohan ticket in 2015, many of this year’s potential “serious” candidates have opted out of the enormous time and energy commitment required of an executive bid. This is fair, but in light of a dangerously shallow candidate field, those still on the fence should recognize the vital contribution they would be making to student engagement and influence should they choose to take up the challenge.