The next Student Association president will face numerous challenges including administrative red tape and an extremely busy schedule, recent presidents warn.
SA President Kris Hart, a junior, said that while he considered running for a second term for what he referred to as a 70-hour per week position, he wanted to give someone else the opportunity to improve on his work.
“I’m glad there are so many people running,” he said. “I would not have decided not to run if I didn’t think someone could do it better than me.”
He said he thinks the major players in the election are going to be juniors Isaiah Pickens, Lee Roupas and Omar Woodard,.
Hart said the next president should appoint cabinet members who are not already involved with the SA, so the organization can reach out to more students.
“The campus needs to understand the (SA) and get involved,” he said.
While Hart said he tried to include a variety of students on his cabinet, he said the largest problem he faced throughout his term was finding a balance between reaching out to students and working with administrators, and called the task “almost impossible.”
“My biggest failure was that I didn’t get students to understand what I was doing,” he said. “You don’t forget about students … but you aren’t out there.”
Hart also warned candidates of the GW administration’s red tape. He said a president needs to “maintain a level of respect where (administrators) can’t walk all over you.”
“The University is the most bureaucratic and political animals I’ve ever had,” he said. “And I’ve worked in Congress for two years.”
SA presidents also need to find a balance between representing students, attending classes and staying grounded, Hart said. He said while his roommates and members of his fraternity keep him grounded, he skips classes regularly to attend meetings, write e-mails and do paperwork.
“There’s only one SA president in recent memory that kept his grades up, and it wasn’t me,” he said.
Phil Robinson, who served as president for the 2002-03 academic year, said he made sure to maintain his grade point average while in office.
“I’m a student first because I’m a student leader,” he said.
Robinson said he worked over the summer before taking office to figure out his goals and “lay the groundwork” for his administration.
“Summer is so key,” he said. “By September I felt like I hit my stride … From the minute you win (the election) you begin to work with administrators, you begin to work with student groups and you begin transitioning.”
He also advised candidates not to let being president change them.
“I feel like I never changed,” Robinson said. “My friends before I ran were the friends I had after.”
Candidates should prepare to work hard and be responsible, he added.
“If you’re going to run, you have to make a lot of sacrifices,” he said. “It’s a lot of hard work to know the SA inside and out.”
Hart said the most important aspect of holding the position is to not to take it too seriously.
“At the end of the day we’re all going to move on,” Hart said. “It’s just a student government.”