Although he is only a sophomore, Phil Meisner says now is the time for him to serve as Student Association president.
“If I were to run for another position, I wouldn’t feel right about it,” Meisner said. “I see what needs to be done.”
He said he does not want to see the SA “flounder” for another year and believes it needs a new outlook.
Meisner has been removed from the ballot for violating Joint Elections Committee rules, but is expected to appeal the JEC’s decision.
Meisner came to the SA as an outsider this year, serving as an undergraduate senator representing the Elliott School of International Affairs. He says the organization does not grasp that it has to go out and be active in the community.
“It should be the voice of the student body,” he said. “It’s muffled by partisanship and methodology.”
He spoke fondly of last year’s battle to keep Commencement off the Ellipse, and said it was an example of how SA members can unite under one issue.
“You have to pick your battles,” Meisner said.
He said he was impressed by students’ energy for that campaign. Meisner said he sees it in students in other groups, but not in the SA – except for the Commencement issue.
“You can see the apathy in the freshman class,” Meisner said. “What can the SA do for the average student?”
Meisner said the focus of his year as president would be academic affairs. He said changes need to be made to the advising system. And although he admits it is not a hot issue that will rile students, he said he believes it is important enough to warrant serious attention.
“Academics hits home with people,” he said. “You have to put it on people’s lists and take the pulse of the student body.”
Meisner said he would consider his presidency a failure if it did not give students substantive academic improvements, including creating a program in which students could advocate concerns to professors and department chairs.
Although promises of academic improvements and attempts at lowering tuition increases are commonplace among presidential candidates, Meisner says he can promise change. That he and his running mate Cat Sadler will be students at GW after their term is an incentive to keep working, he said.
“The guarantee I can give is I will be accountable for all of this,” he said. “I’ll be around and I am committed to making change.”
Hometown: Mahwah, N.J.
Major: International affairs, with a double concentration in international politics and Western Europe
Key credentials: SA undergraduate senator; member, International Affairs Society and College Democrats
“I’d consider my presidency a failure if I didn’t give (academic change) to students and represent students accurately.”