Ah, February on the Hilltop. As the lonely-looking trees sway in the chilly Georgetown wind, it’s time for Georgetown’s most agitating student gadflies to reemerge from hibernation. They’ve glad-handed, put up annoying posters in Red Square and, for a couple weeks, at least, pretended like they actually care about what you think.

It’s GUSA presidential campaign season.

Today, Georgetown’s student body decides who will lead this hapless organization for the next year.

But it’s become increasingly obvious that the Student Association has gone from lacking credibility to just being funny. The candidates seem to realize it themselves, which is probably why they’ve turned to YouTube.com.

While THE HOYA has busied itself somberly reporting on the election’s progress, most candidates seem concerned with getting pathetic laughs in wretched attempts to score votes.

See for yourself on YouTube, where presidential candidate Luke Hillman (COL ’08) appears before a faux version of Congress for a “State of the University” speech.

“DPS has successfully apprehended and detained the woman who had been filming child videos in the basement of New South,” he proclaims.

Hilarious stuff.

In a different video, candidate Jake Styacich (COL ’09) stands against a wall in his boxers. “I’m not wearing any pants,” he says.

Then there’s the bizarre video created by running mates Ben Shaw (COL ’08) and Matthew Appenfeller (COL ’08). It’s called “Vote in a Box” and is apparently modeled on a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. It features the two juniors in sunglasses running around campus singing about Georgetown and is actually marginally amusing.

Enoch Bevel (COL ’08) and his running mate Munir Jawed (SFS ’08) are the only candidates to take a more serious route in a series of eight YouTube videos, although they, too, make sad attempts at humor. Bevel and Jawed focus on GUTV and wireless Internet, among other issues, while slipping between naiveté and just making me sleepy.

To be fair, there are little bits of substance in each campaign, although most of the candidates’ proposals – things like outsourcing Georgetown’s e-mail services to Google, creating giant block parties or expanding meal plan options (Ha!) – are bombastic, wildly unrealistic or naive.

Shaw and Appenfeller have especially original ideas and should consider turning their “I Love Georgetown, but .” campaign into a real student organization. Maybe they should have just done that instead of running for GUSA.

But we’ll see what happens when election season is past, the gadflies crawl back into their holes and somebody has to move from making jokes to changing GUSA.

That’s when the laughing will be over.

GUSA is a stunningly dysfunctional organization with a bloated membership, miniscule budget and very little real power. Occasionally it takes credit for things it really didn’t do – like creating Hoya Court, for instance.

Students usually just yawn.

Although outgoing president Twister Murchison (SFS ’08) has moved the organization slightly forward by reforming the Assembly – quite an accomplishment considering GUSA’s sad state when Murchison arrived on the scene – it’s still far from what it could be.

The new student body president’s first task will be convincing Georgetown that he really matters by finding a big idea and making it work. Maybe it’s meal plan or GUTS bus expansion. Maybe it’s something else entirely, who knows?

His next task is rebuilding GUSA’s credibility. That doesn’t mean creating a dimwitted video. It means showing students that the organization is something more than a bloated monstrosity full of well-meaning but hapless college students.

It’s been a long time since the Student Association has had credibility. And judging by these campaigns, it may be even longer until it earns some.

Moises D. Mendoza is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and former editor in chief of THE HOYA. He can be reached at mendozathehoya.com. DAYS ON THE HILLTOP appears every Tuesday.

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