Sophomore presidential candidate Dani Greenspan has no Student Association experience, and that is precisely the reason he believes he can breathe new life into the organization.
Running a campaign with relatively little publicity, Greenspan is trying to portray himself as an outsider who can make a real difference. His platform consists of three main points: communication, student involvement and advocacy on behalf of students.
Greenspan said he believes the SA needs to change its image from a political organization that does little besides argue, to an accessible forum for students to address their concerns.
“It’s not an easy process. Changing a public image is not something that happens overnight,” Greenspan said.
He said he will work to get more students involved in the SA. That way, he said, students will feel closer to the SA, and the SA will be able to do a better job addressing issues important to students.
“The best ideas often come from other students,” Greenspan said.
Greenspan believes he can improve communication by issuing a monthly newsletter, which details the SA’s activities and tells students how they can get involved, as well as using GWTV and running town hall
Greenspan said he can help improve dining services at GW by pressing for longer hours, especially on weekends, and healthier food. He said service will improve if Aramark employees are happier.
“I support the workers at J Street. They need to be made happier. But we need to put pressure on Aramark,” Greenspan said. “They are here to serve us, and they need to listen. We can’t make demands, though. There has to be cooperation.”
Greenspan’s platform includes bringing in preparatory courses for graduate school exams such as the LSAT or MCAT.
Greenspan said that while the SA does a good job allocating funds to student groups, it could also help them get more money by using grants from corporations and foundations. As a central organization, Greenspan said, the SA is in a position to help a smaller organization in getting these funds.
“The SA plays a very important role because they are here to advocate for students,” Greenspan said. “They have the power to address issues important to students because they can report to the Board of Trustees.”
Phil Robinson said he is running for Student Association president because he is “sick of hearing the old rhetoric over and over.”
“In a nutshell, I want to improve student life on campus,” Robinson said.
“The biggest problem with the SA right now is that they are not in tune with students and what they care about.”
Robinson said he hopes to improve student life through a student information hotline that students would use to direct questions about the University or policies, a public SA budget and a monthly town hall meeting with administrators.
He said he was inspired to run for president when he spoke to a student who was forced to take a leave of absence and had trouble with housing and financial aid when she returned to GW.
“She cried because no one would help her,” he said. “I don’t want to see that happen again.”
He also said he wants to continue to improve diversity on campus as and make himself accessible to students.
Robinson, a current business school senator, said the SA is not as visible as it should be. He wants to create a monthly newsletter and suggestion box so students can understand what the SA is doing and voice their concerns.
He said he plans to open executive cabinet meetings to reporters so that SA actions can be public.
“I think the SA should have less red tape and more customer service,” Robinson said.
University red tape is another one of Robinson’s top concerns, and he said he will work to communicate problems students have to administrators.
Robinson also said the SA has not used the link with GW’s board of trustees enough to encourage change.
Robinson said SA members often promise things that are outside the SA’s scope, such as changing the code of student conduct – an issue pushed by presidential hopeful Josh Singer.
Robinson said he plans to run a more low-key campaign than other candidates by trying to reach out to students on a more personal level.
Josh Singer said he never thought he would run for Student Association president in “a million years.” A self-described “policy dork,” Singer said he is running to have opportunities to bring program proposals to GW administrators that he does not have in his current role as vice president.
One idea he proposes for next year is a “GW farmers market,” which would bring fresh fruit and vegetable vendors to the Quad once a month for students and community members.
Singer noted that this year’s SA Senate, which is run by the EVP, had better attendance than past years and passed more legislation “than ever before” that impacted students’ lives. One example he offers includes a bill that requires the SA president to report back to the Senate after a resolution is presented to University administrators, so senators can keep students better informed about policy changes.
Singer said he also advocated an increase in student organization base allocations from $150 to $300.
If elected, he said he hopes to put GW back into U.S. News and World Report’s top tier, where the University ranked when Singer applied to GW. He said this goal is “achievable” through presenting GW’s board of trustees with logical ideas on how to do it – such as increasing the amount of full-time faculty and allowing professors to teach more sections of classes.
Singer also said he hopes to rewrite the Student Code of Conduct, an issue he said affects thousands of students who deal with Student Judicial Services each year. He wants to make sanctions better fit violations. An SA referendum earlier this year appointed a steering committee to review the code.
He described his opponents as “reasonable people who want to make a difference” and said this year’s election should not mirror last year’s Student Court-decided vote.
Running against a “phantom candidate,” Student Association Executive Vice Presidential candidate Eric Daleo said he still plans to visit all residence halls, poster around campus and even pass out campaign material, even though he is running unopposed for the position.
“I’m treating this like a real campaign because I want to put my issues down on the table, and I want students to know who I am and what I am trying to do,” he said.
Daleo, a history major, explained one of his main goals as vice president will be to increase involvement of the general student body with the SA.
“Many people don’t know what the SA does and what they can do for students,” he said. “I want to go out there and not only understand what people have to say but to include them in the process.”
He plans to achieve his goal by creating a student Web site that will feature all of the SA’s legislation so that students can see what their senators are and are not doing. He said he also wants to move Senate meetings around so that they are sometimes held on the Virginia Campus and the Mount Vernon Campus.
Daleo said he plans to be an advocate for students.
“All too often the vice president role can get caught up in administering meetings and editing minutes,” he said. “But I really look forward to standing up and saying, ‘Look, you’re not right,’ when it is appropriate. And this is something I have been doing all through out my terms, and I want to continue doing that.”
As director of the Dinning Services Commission, Daleo said has worked to see that students’ voices are heard by lengthening the hours of operation at J Street and adding new vegetarian options.
Although Daleo has voiced support for presidential candidate Josh Singer, he said he would be privileged to work with any of the candidates and is looking forward to the coming year.
“I think we are going to get a lot done, and I have high hopes for this coming year,” he said.
This article appeared in the February 25, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.