Members of the Student Association said the SA Senate has passed fewer pieces of legislation so far than in previous years because members are focusing on issues that affect more people and trying to write legislation that makes a difference.
The Senate, which convenes weekly, has passed four pieces of legislation since the beginning of the year. These include a finance bill allocating student group money and resolutions addressing slow food service at J Street, requesting an Ellipse Commencement and congratulating interim Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science Thomas Mazzuchi for his service. SA President Dave Burt introduced the J Street and Commencement resolutions.
SA Executive Vice President Cathy Resler said the Senate is making more conscious decisions this year compared to past years.
Just because we haven’t passed a lot of resolutions doesn’t mean we haven’t been doing a lot, Resler said.
In its effort to accurately represent students’ concerns, the SA has focused on some issues that affect everyone in the GW community, Resler said.
But at least one student says the SA has not done anything significant this year.
I haven’t seen any effects in our dorm, freshman Jeff Fanelli said. If they are doing something, it’s not affecting me, it’s not affecting my friends.
The SA passes two types of legislation. Bills are internal laws that govern SA activity and include spending allocations. Resolutions are documents intended to reflect student opinion on University policy, procedure and activities.
The SA decided this year to make initial student group allocations at the beginning of the fall semester rather than leaving some of these allocations for the spring, Resler said.
Senate committees are working on legislation concerning GW’s campus plan and extra charges students pay depending on which residence hall they live in, Resler said.
Josh Rothstein, chair of the Academic Affairs Senate Committee, said the Senate is not looking for credit and is more focused on doing more constructive things than last year.
Two months into last year, the SA had passed three finance bills, a resolution supporting the creation of the Muslim Student Center and a resolution supporting the unionization of GW teaching assistants and part-time faculty.
Resler said that even though previous SA Senates have passed more legislation, this year’s Senate is more effective.
She said that if legislation is passed too swiftly and with little refining, it is more likely to be disregarded by the administration.
Some SA senators said student concern in understandable.
I can understand from an outside point of view how it can look like that, said Finance Committee Chair Jimmy Canatti, referring to student perception of a lack of progress.
Canatti said the Senate has worked hard on finance bills and resolutions that are now in committee.
Josh Friedman, the SA’s vice president for financial affairs, said he believes it is more important for the Senate to engage in meaningful debate over important legislation instead of passing resolutions lacking substance.
-Tim Donnelly contributed to this report.