Haber, Strauss battle for Senate’s top spot

Jason Haber and Jesse Strauss have spent this year working side by side as Student Association senators.

They now face each other in the race for SA executive vice president.

Haber, a junior political communication major from Jericho, N.Y., currently represents the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences and serves on the Senate’s Student Life Committee.

In his three years at GW, he has performed in a theater group created by the Black People’s Union and Hillel and served on the Program Board’s Political Affairs Committee.

But Haber said last year’s 6.9 percent tuition increase sparked his interest in the SA, prompting him to run for the Senate seat he now holds.

As a senator, Haber worked with local car rental agencies on a program that allows GW students under 21 to rent cars at reduced prices.

Haber said he hopes to use the success of the car rental program as a model for his proposed “Colonial Card” – a project that would offer GW students discounts at local businesses. Area businesses like La Prima and the Froggy Bottom Pub already have expressed interest in the card, Haber said.

Haber said programs like the Colonial Card are part of his vision for the Senate – he wants the organization to move from merely passing bills to providing services.

“The SA should be here to help the students. We can pass 500 bills and it is possible that not one of those bills will affect a student at GW,” Haber said. “Bills don’t affect students – programs do.”

Haber said his platform also includes a plan for establishing toll-free access to the GW touch-tone registration system and the creation of a student organization newsletter.

Strauss, a junior political science major from Queens, N.Y., is also a CSAS senator and chairs the Senate’s Student Life Committee.

His SA involvement began last year when former SA President Damian McKenna named Strauss chair of the organization’s Dining Services Commission.

A founding member of Students Against Yearly Increases in Tuition (SAYIT) – formed in the wake of last year’s tuition increase – Strauss recently has worked on a bill that, if passed, will create an SA tuition action director.

Strauss said the tuition director will advocate students’ concerns about the amount of future tuition increases and the University’s spending priorities.

Strauss said he sees the office of EVP as a forum to help students “take ownership” of the University.

“We have to take ownership of the University, and in order to do that we have to change the way we think of the SA. The SA has to start acting more as a community group,” Strauss said.

“The SA is an association, it is not a government. We advocate on behalf of students,” he said.

Strauss’ platform includes continued emphasis on spending priorities and tuition. He said he also advocates improved dining services, attention to academic issues like advising and class size, increased on-campus technology and better student services.

Haber said last semester he had planned to run for SA president. In fact, Haber and Strauss said they had planned to run as a ticket – Haber for SA president and Strauss for EVP.

But Haber said that after the alliance fell apart at the end of the fall semester, he began to feel his supporters were losing confidence in his campaign. After re-examining his goals, he changed his plans.

“I looked at my goals for next year and I felt that I could accomplish them as EVP,” Haber said.

While the candidates disagree about exactly what broke up their alliance, both insist that past differences will not affect the race.

“I won’t make an issue out of it,” Haber said. “It is all water under the bridge.”

“It doesn’t do anyone any good to have a nasty race because that just distracts us from talking about the issues,” Strauss said.

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