Staff Editorial: Potential for greatness

After a tumultuous couple of weeks, the student body has elected a radically different Student Association. Newly elected President Omar Woodard and a Senate with only a few returning members must forge a way to work concurrently on behalf of the student body. While each new representative campaigned on different ideas and programs, this page feels the SA should focus on a specific set of priorities for the coming year.

First and foremost, President Woodard should strive to make the SA a visible part of campus life. Instead of spending the majority of his time bunkered in his fourth floor office in the Marvin Center, Woodard should make it a priority to hang out in popular on-campus locations to interact with students. An important part about making the SA visible includes ensuring students know what their student government is doing for them. Current President Kris Hart suffers from a perception that he is too cozy with University administrators and as a result does not sufficiently advocate for students. Whether or not this is true, poor SA publicity has added to this problem.

Another important priority for Woodard and the rest of the SA should be to ensure that they focus on implementing the visions set out in their respective campaigns. President Woodard should make it a priority to implement his innovative online class wait list system – enabling students to automatically be written into classes when spots in those classes become available – along with initiatives like a revision of the student Code of Conduct and the online syllabi file.

Woodard should also adapt good ideas from other campaigns. One of the best ideas that surfaced this election cycle came when Sen. Lee Roupas (U-at- Large) advocated for the creation of two student posts on the Board of Trustees. Woodard must make it clear to administrators that not only are there qualified students at GW who would make a positive contribution to the body, that it is the responsibility of the administration to provide adequate avenues to empower students in their educational future.

Executive Vice President Anyah Dembling should focus on implementing her new senator training program. Such a program will ensure a measure of continuity during a potentially rough senatorial transition.

Woodard and the Senate should also prioritize a comprehensive reform of the Joint Elections Committee. This election cycle has exposed how ineffective the JEC has been in ensuring the integrity of GW’s student elections. Continuing concerns regarding Dembling’s alleged misconduct in paying for individual memberships in the College Democrats so individuals could vote on her behalf in the organization’s endorsement hearing, and the JEC’s botched handling of the ensuing investigation, show a need for comprehensive reform. The JEC must rework who sits on the committee to guarantee the impartiality of the body. In addition, it should institute an intensive training program so JEC members have a full grasp – during the campaign’s most difficult periods – of the knowledge to make the election run smoothly. Overall, the JEC charter must be reworked so an impartial body can rule on serious crimes against student democracy and offenders can be held accountable for their transgressions.

Student groups are seriously strapped for cash. Students, however, should not be blamed for the failure of fee increase referendum. The SA introduced a plan that was poorly conceived and poorly sold. This year, the SA should focus on creating a fee increase proposal that realistically takes inflation into account and plans for the future.

This year, for the first time in awhile, students have a reason to be optimistic about the SA. President Woodard and the new Senate represent the real potential for a productive year in the SA. By focusing on the above priorities, the SA can make sure that at this time next year students feel as positive about student government as they do now.

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