Letters to the Editor

Bad experiences

We started talking in my Youth and Delinquency class about the latest suicide, and no one in the class knew where the University Counseling Center was, or even what the phone number was. I got the idea to volunteer my time at the counseling center if I could, so I went online to GW’s Web site to search for the counseling center’s contact information. When I called them, a woman answered and I asked if I could volunteer there. I thought I could field calls or help with paperwork or do just anything to help, but I found out that only work-study, graduate students and professional counselors work there.

The first problem I noticed was that the counseling center is only open during regular business hours. Since most, if not all, of these suicides have occurred at night or over the weekend, I wondered what those students’ late night options were. The same Web site said after regular business hours to call UPD (994-6111) and they would assist you. It was 5:45, so I decided to call UPD to see what would happen. A UPD officer answered and I asked him if this was the right number to call after business hours for student crisis counseling. The answer I got was far from helpful: I was put on hold. About two minutes later, the officer came back on the line and gave me another number to call (4-7222). I then hung up and called this second number. After a few rings, the same UPD officer picked up the phone, recognized that I had just called, and promptly put be on hold for a second time. When he finally got back on the line, the officer told me to call the original UPD number (4-6111). I called that number back and the same officer answered for the third time, and for a third time I was put on hold while he tried to look up the “correct number to dial.” When he came back I told him that he was lucky I was calling for informational purposes only and not for a real crisis; had I been calling because of suicidal thoughts, I don’t think being put on hold and bounced around a single office repeatedly would have been helpful at all.

At this point, I was waiting on hold for the fourth time for the officer’s supervisor. The supervisor finally answered, gave me the number to the University Counseling Center and hung up, regardless of the fact that it was after 5 p.m. and the counseling center was long closed. I am left deeply disturbed after this experience – just imagine if I had really needed some help.

-Dany BouRaad, senior

Seeing the SA of the past

I am writing in response to the column written by Senate Chief-of-staff Justin Neidig (“Serve Students,” Sept. 27, p. 5). As a Student Association Senator, I was shocked to see what Mr. Neidig had written. Besides the absurdity of his claims, the absolute negativity and hypocrisy found in his writing is disturbing.

In his column, Mr. Neidig made several references to the SA as an organization that went through “tumultuous and hard years, scandal and inability to achieve results for students.” I assume that as a former Senator, Mr. Neidig openly shares some of the credit for that somewhat tarnished reputation. Well, let’s investigate Mr. Neidig’s record.

He was chosen as one of three non-voting freshman senators last year by the Rules committee and then, when a voting seat in the Business School eventually opened, Mr. Neidig rose to the occasion and filled the seat. For the entire year that he was a senator, he sought to address none of the initiatives that he criticizes the new Senate for failing to achieve. He did not work to fix housing selection, he did not work to fix class registration and did he did not work to get more allocations for student organizations and bypass the co-sponsorship system, all of which he faults the current Senate for not addressing.

Despite claims of inactivity and failing to work for students, I am forced to point out that the current Senate has only held one meeting. In that time, we have swiftly accomplished many tasks, certainly more than in years past. In the past two weeks alone the SA has worked on, among other things, providing for student representation on the Board of Trustees, investigating and reforming the Student Guide to Rights and Responsibilities, reforming the budget allocation process for student groups and insisting the University maintain Commencement on the Ellipse. Additionally, the SA has taken unprecedented steps to work for and with students. Nearly every member of the SA volunteered at Fall Fest, cooking and serving food to fellow students. The SA is continuing the Coffee with the Deans program and connecting students with administrators. And hundreds of students have registered to vote and requested absentee ballots thanks to the hard work of GW Votes, an SA initiative.

Mr. Neidig did, however, manage to introduce a single bill in the entire year he served as a Senator, and that bill was to amend the bylaws. Despite his criticism of current Senators, who work to clarify and streamline the governing documents of the Student Association – which is the only institutional recourse we have to prevent and remedy the corruption Mr. Neidig is so concerned about – the sole piece of legislation that Mr. Neidig introduced all of last year was a bylaw amendment.

I do, however, find myself in agreement with one portion of the column submitted by Mr. Neidig. Without the tremendous leadership and forward thinking of President Omar Woodard and Executive Vice President Anyah Dembling, we could not possibly have achieved so much so fast. Under their leadership, much was done over the summer, such as investigating the possibility of a Muslim Student Center and reforming the SA Constitution to allow the student government to better serve students. So far, the SA has provided a united front representing the student body and avoided negativity and petty confrontations. That is, until Mr. Neidig’s base and self-serving column.

-Morgan Corr, sophomore, CCAS-U senator

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