Editorial: Advocacy center: Good first step

Last year, during The Hatchet’s Student Association presidential endorsement hearings, a main criterion for this page’s support called for a candidate with a pragmatic approach to the SA’s potential as a student services organization.

Thus far, SA President Audai Shakour and his peers in the Senate have worked hard to transform the governing organization from an abstract, issue-based, deliberative body into an organization that provides students with services, such as the planned Dulles Airport holiday shuttle and an upcoming Web site that will allow students to trade books online. One SA initiative, the Student Services and Advocacy Center, is a great step toward accomplishing this much-needed transformation of the SA. The need for the center, however, underscores the necessity for a simplified and approachable GW bureaucracy.

The SSAC aims to provide services to students who may feel lost when confronting various departments within GW’s sprawling and ever-expanding bureaucracy (see The Hatchet’s news story on the center at www.gwhatchet.com). Students with housing repair problems are often unsure whether they should turn to the Community Living and Learning Center or Residential Property Management. A student wondering about drug or alcohol policies might get bounced back and forth between the Office of Student Judicial Services and the Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education. The advocacy center could assist students in navigating the various departments that play a hand in their daily lives.

As of now, the only quick and effective way for a student to cut through GW’s departments is to have a parent call the Office of Parent Services. Even after a student is rebuffed by a number of different departments, Parent Services always seems to cut through the red tape. If the advocacy center is effective, perhaps a unified front of knowledgeable students constantly pressing GW departments for information will force those departments to clarify policies, allowing the average student to get through their own problems without mom or dad’s help.

This center is a good first step, but Shakour needs to continue coming up with new ways to create an SA that is relevant to students’ lives. He must build on his campaign promises, including the Colonial Trader Web site, which, if instituted, will provide a resource for students to circumvent the GW Bookstore when reselling their textbooks. In addition, it is incumbent upon members of the SA to adequately publicize their efforts, lest students think of the advocacy center as another layer of unhelpful red tape.

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