SA president looks to upgrade residence halls

Student Association President Omar Woodard said his organization will focus on being more inclusive to students from all over the University.

“We need to get students involved,” Woodard said, describing a goal he has for the near future. “In the past the SA was viewed as an elitist organization, a hard-to-get-into boys club – we don’t want it to be that way.”

The senior, who was elected to his post in March, said he will be working on a number of projects, ranging from the improvement of many GW residence halls to a system facilitating easier class registration.

In addition to his goal of drawing more students to the on-campus governing organization, Woodard said his Residence Hall Renewal Act and class waiting list initiative are top priorities.

His proposed residence hall act will allow students to report complaints they have about their dorms to the SA, which will then work with the University to resolve those issues. The initiative targets older residence halls, specifically The Schenley, Madison and Thurston halls.

“We want to identify the main problems in some of these dorms and work closely with the University to ensure that all these concerns are accounted for,” Woodard said. “Obviously we’re not going to ask the University to do work if we’re not working ourselves, so everyone needs to work together.”

The SA said it also plans to work closely with Residence Hall Association on the renewal act.

Senior Daniel Miller, president of the RHA, said he supports Woodard’s plan and looks forward to working with him this year.

“This project indicates Omar’s commitment to improving Residence Halls,” Miller said. “It’s not that previous administrations weren’t interested, but never this willing to create a good relationship with RHA in an effort to improve student life.”

Woodard said he also plans to renew talks to implement an automated class waiting list, which would automatically place students from a waiting list into classes as soon as seats become available. While this issue has been discussed in recent years, the University has never implemented it because of negative consequences, officials said.

“It can have some real negative impacts,” said Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for Academic Planning and Special Projects. “If there is a student at the top of the waiting list who wants to take a course as an elective and below there is a student who needs that class as a requirement for a major, the argument could be made that the person who needs the class for a major should get that spot.”?

Woodard said he understands that the SA and the University may not always see eye-to-eye on issues, but added that he will continue to work to find a balance with GW.

“Inevitably some things that we are pushing for the University is going to be opposed to, and that’s okay,” he said. “We’re not here to fight with the administration, we’re here to work with them, to make compromises and serve students as best as possible.”?

An issue Woodard has already worked on over the summer was updating the out-of-date test and class syllabus file. With some documents more than a decade old, Woodard expressed a desire to work with students and faculty to file syllabi for all GW courses.

“Students want to pick the right classes and this could help to decrease the high add-drop rates in the first few weeks of a semester,” Woodard said.??

A major issue concerning the previous administration was the misallocation of $52,000 through what SA officials said was an accounting error. ?This year, the SA president said he will take extensive measures to ensure fiscal responsibility.?

In addition to appointing a vice president of financial affairs, Woodard said he will also work closely with the University to monitor his organization’s spending.

“This year (supervisor of Financial Services) Joan Mitchell is going to be more accessible to student organizations,” he said. “Including the SA, which should make it easier to keep accurate records between organizations and the University.”

With the 2004 presidential election less than two months away, Woodard said the SA will continue to work with GW Votes, an initiative started last year with the goal of registering all GW students to vote.?

Through bringing new reform ideas to the SA, Woodard said he hopes to have an overall impact on how the SA is viewed.?

Woodard said, “I think sometimes people forget that we’re all students here, we all go to classes just like everyone else, and instead of being a reactive student government, we should be pro-active in representing our fellow students.”

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