The Student Association senate is a strange animal at a unique school. This deliberating body designed to discuss student issues often devolves into a mock U.S. Senate with students stroking their political egos. The situation has improved this year, however, with new direction from the SA’s executive branch and senators willing to put ambition and divisiveness aside.
One of the major drivers for change is also the current executive vice president, Josh Lasky, who has fostered a pragmatic and cooperative approach. To continue the progress that has been made, The Hatchet is happy to endorse Andrew Cooper, an SA insider who understands the practical aspects of student life, for the position of EVP.
Cooper, who is Vice President of Public Affairs in SA President Lamar Thorpe’s administration, stood out as the one candidate who understands the student-centered advocacy direction that the SA must take. Cooper’s association with Thorpe, who has taken great steps to restore the SA’s credibility, is no doubt an asset, but this candidate also has the individual characteristics needed to lead the senate.
During the interview, Cooper discussed a no-nonsense approach in dealing with debate and senate resolutions. He is a candidate who is not afraid to come out against resolutions that are unfeasible and guide senators in a more productive direction. A well-spoken individual, Cooper will command respect from student leaders while seeking ways to cooperate and find the best avenues to deal with important issues.
Cooper’s two years working in GW Housing Programs has given him the opportunity to work with administrators on student issues, and his position as a House Proctor in Lafayette Hall has given him an opportunity to interact with common students. These experiences will surely be assets in coordinating with the senate and GW’s leadership to address student concerns.
The major downfall to Cooper’s pursuit of EVP is his lack of procedural experience dealing with the senate. Following the election, however, he will have ample time to overcome this obstacle. Ultimately, he has the right attitude and experience for the position, and with dedication he will be able to easily learn the ins and outs of the senate.
Chris Rotella also received a serious examination for the endorsement. Rotella is extremely qualified for the procedural aspects of the job, and came with a strong platform and solid experience dealing with the senate’s procedural rules. Rotella also came to the interview with some bright ideas, and seemed to understand the advocacy role of the SA.
Unfortunately, Rotella also has ties to the older, more divisive parts of the group. In addition to his contact with former politicos who found themselves in the center of controversy, Rotella was also heavily involved in certain SA initiatives when that body was accused of being ineffective. Additionally, he did not seem to share the same no-nonsense attitude that would suit Cooper well for this job.
Still, Rotella has an effective working knowledge of the SA and could serve as a valuable asset to next year’s SA executive branch. Furthermore, he should continue to push his ideas in the Senate next year and work for student advocacy.
The new SA senate will require a leader whose principle skills involve standing up for student interests and ensuring that legislation is feasible and well planned. Andrew Cooper is highly capable of adroitly performing these duties, so long as he is able to reach out to the senate and familiarize himself with the its rules and order.