Student Association President Audai Shakour announced last week that the full debut of his Colonial Trader Web site, originally scheduled to launch in late August, will not be available for at least four weeks.
The delay of Shakour’s much-anticipated Web site, along with a delay in appointing two members of the SA Student Court, has left some members of the Senate questioning when they can expect Shakour to fulfill other obligations. Shakour made the Colonial Trader site a centerpiece of his campaign last year.
“On a whole, Audai has been good compared to past presidents, no scandals at least,” Chris Rotella (CCAS-U), a sophomore, said. “He originally promised a lot, and I think he is finding it difficult to live up to it all.”
Shakour’s closest advisers said the delay is caused by the Student Activities Center being late in processing a check for the Web site development company, and the developers being dissatisfied with the initial version of the site. The Hatchet reported in August that the Colonial Trader site cost $11,000 to develop.
“The Web developer is not getting it done as fast as we’d like,” said sophomore Casey Pond, vice president of public affairs for Shakour.
Shakour, a senior, said in May that Colonial Trader, a trading Web site modeled after craigslist.org, would be launched by the first day of the fall school term. The site would allow students to interact with one another by trading books and posting apartment listings. Shakour said last week that “due to complications beyond our control,” the site might have book-trading abilities available by mid-October and a full launch in early November.
“I am disappointed that the administration hasn’t pushed ahead with the site,” sophomore SA senator Elliot Gillerman (ESIA-U) said. “It’s one of the things Audai has been hyping up. Myself and lots of other senators and students outside of the SA are upset about it.”
“My concern is that by waiting, people will get into the mentality that the SA doesn’t do anything,” Gillerman added.
Gillerman and Rotella both ran on the Coalition for Reform slate last year – the slate’s presidential candidate, Ben Traverse, lost to Shakour in May. The Coalition makes up the majority of the Senate.
In the case that the Web site is not online by the date promised by the developers, the Shakour administration is “looking into some kind of compensation,” Pond said.
The Web site’s developers said the site may not be launched until even later than Shakour’s target launch date.
“We experienced a late start due to the administration of the GW funding process that put the project back several months,” said David P. Cole, chief financial officer for Swap-Swoop, the company contracted by the Shakour administration to create the site. “Realistically we are looking at a mid-November completion date. We want to make up some time in the development of this project, but we cannot be premature in shortening the date.”
The failure of the site to go online at the start of the semester is not the only obligation that Shakour has failed to carry out, senators said.
Rotella, who is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said he is “disappointed” that Shakour has not yet announced his choices to fill the remaining two seats on the Student Court, a five-member body that handles disputes between student organizations and rules on constitutional questions that arise in the SA. Shakour did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment over the weekend.
In early September Shakour announced two nominees for the SA court, junior Rob Tobias and Law School student Ericka Fisher. Tobias was confirmed by the full Senate in early September and is now a member of the court, but Fisher did not pass out of the committee when she failed to appear at her confirmation hearing.
Jeff Goodman, the SA’s vice president of Judicial and Legislative Affairs said Shakour is still deliberating to “ensure that the next nominee will be the best person for the job,” Goodman wrote in an e-mail.
“Their main criteria for any nominee is their ability to understand the law and to remain an impartial jurist, no matter what cases come before the court,” Goodman added.
“I was hoping to have the process done weeks ago,” Rotella said. “It has been an entire month since Ericka failed and no new nominees have been announced, and we don’t even have a timeline of when a nominee the rules committee can be expecting the remaining two nominees.”
Rotella said Shakour’s tardiness in announcing new nominees is indicative of a greater issue of the SA president not working with other members of the SA.
“It has been difficult to communicate with the executive,” Rotella said. “We are trying to have a good working relationship, but it almost seems like they are shutting us out.”