Mount Vernon College will have a spot on the Student Association Senate next year if the student body of the women’s college decides to accept it.
Last month, GW announced that Mount Vernon will become a school of the University by 1999. GW became affiliated with the small women’s college last fall, assuming its multi-million debt and assisting it in repairing dilapidated facilities.
After extensive debate about the constitutionality of giving MVC a seat, the Senate established a non-voting seat for the college in what Sen. Frank Vitolo (Law) called “extending an olive branch” to Mount Vernon women.
The Senate bill creating the seat requires the SA consult Mount Vernon students about their views on Senate representation before the plan is finalized.
If MVC students decide they want a seat, a senator would be appointed by Mount Vernon’s Student Government Association until MVC students officially are integrated into GW’s student population.
The bill Vitolo originally proposed would have created a voting seat for MVC. But eventually senators compromised with a non-voting seat to allow the reapportionment bill to pass.
Sen. Bob Nelson (SMHS), who opposed the MVC seat, questioned the constitutionality of granting representation to the women’s college.
Undergraduate Sen. Carrie Potter, (at large), originally supported the MVC seat. But after consulting with MVC Student Government President Bethany Miller, Potter said it would be better to wait before offering MVC a seat.
“They’re not really sure what is going to happen to student government over there at this point,” Potter said. “I think it is better if we wait and talk about something in the fall for them when they are actually matriculated students.”
Vitolo said that, according to the SA constitution, any time the University creates or redesignates a school, the school must be given representation on the SA Senate. Vitolo said when GW bought MVC, it created a new school of the University.
“If you look at the language of the constitution . there’s a lot of wiggle room, and if people differ on what that language means, it can be decided by the Student Court,” Vitolo said.
After speaking with Miller, SA President Kuyomars “Q” Golparvar said any action taken by the Senate is premature.
“What (MVC students) want is to be able to keep their own student government,” he said.
Those opposed to a MVC seat agreed that since MVC students will be matriculated into existing GW schools, the Senate is not constitutionally obligated to grant the school a seat.
Graduate Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS) said MVC will be considered a campus of GW, not a separate school. He compared it to GW’s Crystal City, Va. campus, which does not have a Senate seat.
Undergraduate Sen. Jason Haber (CSAS) said it is important to find out what the students at Mount Vernon want before a decision is made on their behalf by the SA.
“When you don’t know all the facts about a situation, to make a decision even with the best of intentions is wrong,” Haber said.
The same reapportionment bill created graduate and undergraduate seats for the School of Public Health and Health Services.