SA Guide: SA president’s highs and lows

This story is part of The GW Hatchet’s 2006 SA Election Guide.

As six students are vying for the highest position in student government this week, the man currently occupying the spot said that despite the perks of the job, being Student Association president has its lows.

A distinct name coupled with an imposing 6-foot-5 stature makes him one of the most recognizable figures on campus. At this point in the year, Audai Shakour, a senior, is almost a lame duck – but that’s just fine with him.

“I’ve been ready for a while,” Shakour said about his term ending in about a month. “It was a fun ride, but I’m ready for a lot of things to be done. It was a great experience, even through the rough times.” Undoubtedly, Shakour is hinting at the constant criticism from opposing SA senators, the media and students.

“I don’t think there’s any other job like this on campus,” he said. “The thing about this job is you’re always under the microscope. The media doesn’t report on the good things you do, so you don’t have a chance to redeem yourself.”

Shakour rose to the SA presidency after one of the closest elections in recent history. Shakour faced veteran SA Sen. Ben Traverse and won the SA’s top post by 31 votes in last April’s run-off election.

Amid the close election and the controversy and criticism that have in part defined Shakour’s presidency, he has still managed to have a positive mindset about the experiences he had along with various lessons he learned this year.

“In this job, I felt the highest highs in my life and experienced the lowest lows,” he said.

Certainly the “lowest lows” of Shakour’s term came in November, following allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault brought against him by a female colleague in the SA.

Amid the threat of impeachment and senators calling for his resignation, Shakour said he would not step down from the SA’s top post, and he vehemently reiterated that he would be cleared of the charges. In December, he was.

Though he was found not in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, the lengthy, two-month judicial hearing had political and personal repercussions for Shakour. Two of Shakour’s top cabinet members quit their positions during the judicial hearings, and Shakour not only lost close political advisers, but also two friends.

“What happened last semester was hurtful, but it built a lot of character,” Shakour said. “I was only motivated because I was president.”

He spoke nostalgically about his term, about things he wished he could have accomplished and the perks of being president, but above all, the insight he gained about himself and others.

“There are perks to this job,” Shakour said, “free lunches, free access to administrators and access to students.”

Though he did not say the Pita Pit salad he was eating during his interview with The Hatchet was a free gift from the store, he didn’t deny it, either. He modestly admitted that he noticed the perks of being SA president as soon as he was elected.

Though Shakour has gained infamy for the controversy that has surrounded him this year, he said the accomplishments of his administration should not be discounted.

“Our biggest accomplishment this year was services,” he said. “We also did cut down the budget that left more money for students.”

In September, the Shakour administration opened the Student Services and Advocacy Center to assist students with issues ranging from housing concerns to judicial processes.

One of Shakour’s main campaign platforms, the Colonial Trader Web site, never fully came to fruition. After spending $11,000 on a University-wide Web portal for buying, selling and trading with fellow students, the site never came out.

“We tried to advertise it, but for some reason it wasn’t as successful as we though it would be,” he said.

For the person who will be in his position next year, his advice is to “be strong – understand that you’re a student and an administrator. You have to balance those two out. Don’t let the criticism affect you.”

In the twilight of Shakour’s term, how does he think he will be remembered?

“It’s up to everyone else reading this article to say,” he said.

-Brandon Butler contributed to this report.

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