Senior Caity Leu planned to spend the year heading the Student Association Senate as executive vice president.
However, destiny stepped in, and she became president.
Leu took over as president last week after the SA Senate removed Phil Meisner from the presidency, an unprecedented occurrence at GW. She will be installed officially Saturday, but the transition process already has begun.
Leu said she knows she must struggle to regain the trust of GW students in the aftermath of impeachment and removal, both of which left visible scars on the SA.
We’re here for them, for them solely, Leu said. We are the Student Association after all. (Students) should feel comfortable expressing their feelings to their senators or to me.
Undergraduate Sen. John Williams (Elliott School of International Affairs) said he agreed the SA must return to its roots by becoming a student advocacy group. He said he hopes Leu learned from the errors of past administrations.
I hope that we have better communication between the executive and legislative, Williams said.
He said the SA has to show students concrete results and that the SA will return to normalcy soon.
Leu is familiar with trying to build faith in constituents. She decided to run for Senate because, as a member of the College Democrats, she grew angry about the SA financial process for student groups, Leu said. She said she also thought senators who represented the Elliott School at the time needed to do more for their constituents. Leu served as an Elliott School senator during the 1998-’99 school year.
Last March, she ran for EVP because she said she enjoyed the excitement of the Senate. Leu said she realizes the Senate sometimes gets mired in personal politics, but she said she believes the senators are simply trying to do what they think is best for their constituents.
She said she left her position as EVP with some sadness. But at first, she did not know what to make of the news that she was the next SA president.
I was a little bit surprised, Leu said. I wasn’t really happy or disappointed. I was just sort of numb.
Leu is not letting her new title interfere with the initiatives she started as EVP, she said. Earlier this week, Leu launched the Student Advocacy Service, a program designed to address student concerns ranging from financial aid difficulties to academic troubles. Leu said students have begun to ask for help via e-mail or phone.
She is continuing to pursue the SOS2K Initiative, a plan to get more funds for student groups. Leu said she is in the process of writing a budget proposal for Assistant Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Mike Gargano.
Some cabinet members who supported Meisner resigned following the removal, and Leu has to fill a few positions. In addition, Leu is still considering candidates to replace her as EVP.
She said she refuses to choose a senator for the position of EVP because she does not want to disenfranchise any students. Also, she said she plans to choose someone who will not run for an SA position next year because she wants the EVP to be apolitical. The elections in March would take too much time away from the EVP’s job, Leu said.
Leu said she expects the SA to stabilize by the end of the week. But as the group attempts to overcome the impeachment and removal, Leu remains positive.
The first couple of days were really difficult because emotions were running high.I think I’m doing OK now, Leu said.