SA sets up student advocacy center

In an effort to provide assistance to students with issues ranging from housing concerns to judicial processes, Student Association President Audai Shakour opened the Student Services and Advocacy Center last week.

The program has been introduced under the direction of former Residence Hall Association Vice President and SA presidential candidate Jon Ostrower, a senior. Ostrower said the initiative is one of the most positive programs he has seen from the SA. The program will include five divisions: judicial issues, housing issues, student organization assistance, academic affairs and general assistance.

“The SA hopes this will work as a central point to which all students may go to resolve virtually any issue,” said Casey Pond, SA vice president of public affairs, who works for Shakour.

The mission statement of the center is to deliver support and information to students and advocate on their behalf for the improvement of the University.

“The SSAC will revolutionize the way the SA at GW works with students to make sure they are satisfied with their University,” Ostrower said. “It is the first time that there has truly been an institutionalized model here at GW which will seek to ensure that students are satisfied will their experience at GW.”

The Community Living and Learning Center, one of the departments SSAC would work with, is not yet familiar with the program, said assistant director Jessica Demaree. She said it is “difficult to comment on the subject.”

“CLLC supports creative initiatives aimed at improving the customer service experiences of our students,” she said.

SACC has only dealt with four cases since it was unofficially launched last spring. Shakour stressed that students’ issues will remain confidential, if they wish. Pond would not make students who used the service available for comment.

During the first weeks of school, Ostrower worked with SA senators and cabinet members during a two-day training session.

Shakour believes the program will open channels of communication between administrators and students not involved with the SA who have serious issues facing them.

“Jon is a highly qualified director, and I have the highest expectations for the center,” Shakour said. “I look forward to seeing many new faces around the office over the course of the year.

Part of SSAC’s role will be to connect students with other resources throughout the school, such as the Student Judicial Advisors, which will handle all judicial issues brought to the center.

Created in 1998, the SJA is directed by Peter Fu, a sophomore. SJA falls under the umbrella of SACC and provides student lawyers for students who have hearings with Student Judicial Services because of alleged violations of the Student Code on Conduct.

“We’re all working towards the same goal and student will really benefit from that,” Fu said. “Finally we’re going out to reach for students.”

By working from the “micro-level” and helping students individually, one case at a time, Fu said the center would be helpful for all students.

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