Former Student Association Sen. L. Asher Corson formed a group earlier this semester to act as a watchdog over the SA.
Corson said his group, The Student Voice, will better represent students in an organization he has often criticized as a Hatchet columnist. Students will be able to voice issues they want discussed in the SA through the group’s Web site, www.gwstudentvoice.com.
Corson’s organization will then introduce and support their concerns in the Senate, or if it involves GW, to a University department. The organization is currently comprised of a nine-member steering committee.
“We feel there are a lot of places where students could be represented better and we want to fill those needs,” Corson, a junior, said. “It’s not a challenge to other groups; it’s that we feel we have the ability to do a lot for students.”
He added that his group, which has had three meetings so far, will also investigate the activities of SA officials and form necessary committees to look into possible discrepancies within the governing body. Corson, as a member of the “Clean Slate” ticket, ran unsuccessfully for SA executive vice president last year. Several members of his ticket and fraternity are SA senators.
Some members of the SA said Corson’s group, while it has an admirable goal, will be biased.
“As president and co-founder of the group, I would think there would be a conflict of interest there to be a Hatchet columnist and to espouse your views through a student organization,” SA President Omar Woodard said. “I think that would be troublesome.”
Members of The Student Voice countered that since Corson’s views are independent from those of other students, he is capable of leading an unbiased regulatory organization.
“The whole purpose is for students to have opinions, so just because Asher has an opinion should not mean that he can’t be on this organization,” said Jay Riskind, a member of Student Voice.
“All of us on the steering committee have opinions and we all try to convince the group of our opinion,” Riskind added. “The whole idea is that we are a collective group of people coming together to have a discussion.”
Some senators agree with the group’s goal and said a broader scope of opinions would be better for the SA.
“I think it’s a great idea, you can never have too many people working for students,” said Ben Traverse (CCAS-U), who ran on the “Clean Slate” last year.
He added that he does not expect the regulatory organization to stand in the way of the SA, but said it will expand on what the governing group is doing.
Corson said one of the main initiatives The Student Voice will be working for is to better advise students during Student Judicial Services hearings. Those subject to hearings are only offered advice from SA officials, he said.
“I think it’s great that the SA has student advisors,” Corson said. “We don’t want to take their place, but I know as someone who has been in the SA that not everyone feels like the SA represents them.”
Jon Ostrower, director of the SA advisors program, said The Student Voice will provide biased counsel to students facing judicial action.
“I think students have a right to get advisors from wherever they want,” Ostrower said. “However, I think there is an inherent bias when you sign on to work with The Student Voice in that they are an organization that is basically in opposition to the University as opposed to one that’s looking to work with the University to ensure students are getting the best representation possible.”
But Corson rejected notions that his organization is biased, and said he would even look into the actions of his friends if it were warranted.
“We are not trying to change the fact that the SA is the official student representation body here,” Corson said. “All we are saying is that even though the SA exists to represent students, that doesn’t automatically mean that all students are represented.”