SA President’s platform ambitious

Sophomore Nicole Capp won the election for Student Association President on a simple three-step platform. Now, just weeks after the election, University officials and former SA members said some of her campaign promises may not be feasible.

A pillar of Capp’s platform was the “GWorld All Over” campaign which, according to her Web site – calls for more dining and retail options that accept GWorld as payment, lower GWorld vendor fees and a faster vendor application process.

There are approximately 70 food and 40 retail vendors on campus and throughout the District that accept Colonial Cash through the GWorld card program, according to the GWorld Web site.

On her site, Capp said that she will “pressure” the GWorld Office to have GWorld “accepted at all restaurants and retailers within three blocks of campus.”

Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services, said that a new GWorld partner must “add value” to the current GWorld offerings and the inclusion of all local businesses within a certain radius to campus is unlikely to happen.

“(Capp’s initiative) is kind of a broad statement,” said Haaga, who oversees the GWorld program. “We certainly can’t force (businesses) to become a Colonial Cash partner. That’s a business decision they have to figure out for themselves.”

Her platform’s statement says that every venue within three blocks should take GWorld, but Capp said that does not necessarily included every venue.

“Of course students don’t expect every place within three blocks to take GWorld. Obviously, I’m not advocating for Kinkead’s to accept GWorld,” said Capp, referring to the upscale seafood restaurant in the 2000 Penn shopping center.

The SA president-elect said that she will work to reduce vendor fees “allowing more vendors to participate.”

The Hatchet reported in September 2006 that some vendors pay a 15 percent commission for purchases made on GWorld, in addition to other operating fees.

Haaga said most students “don’t have a basic understanding” of how the GWorld program finances itself. Haaga said it is “unlikely” that GWorld fees will be reduced since the fees are used to support the GWorld program.

“If we don’t have those dollars coming in from the vendors, we have a budget deficit that potentially puts us in a situation in which we can’t pay our operating expenses,” Haaga said.

Capp said that GW administrators “will work” with the SA next year on this matter.

“GW is not a business; it is a university,” Capp said. “These issues will require the administrators to be creative and show interest in student concerns.”

Capp said another goal is to add a grocery store to the GWorld system.

Another one of Capp’s campaign initiatives, “GW411,” will assist students with their problems regarding housing, student organizations, Student Judicial Services and GWorld among other issues, according to the site. Capp will assemble a group of students who can be reached by phone and e-mail to aid students through “GW411,” the site states.

Former SA President Audai Shakour, who held the SA’s top position a year ago, created a similar program – the Student Services and Advocacy Center – during his presidency. The program was designed to provide assistance to students in the areas of housing, student organizations and Student Judicial Services, among other concerns. The initiative was launched but is no longer an aspect of the SA Executive.

“(‘GW411’ and SSAC) are completely opposite. There is simply no comparison between the two,” Capp said. “We are already devising a system that will include an internal statistical review and a database of questions and answers.”

Shakour said that “social service” programs like SSAC and “GW411” should not be the SA’s focus.

“College students should be able to solve their own problems and don’t need an institution doing it for them,” Shakour said. “They may need guidance and direction but that’s all the SA should offer.”

Capp’s final campaign pillar is “GWInformed,” which calls for increased communication between students and the SA, according to her Web site. She will keep students more informed on what is going on in the SA through online updates, bi-monthly reports, regular newsletters and town hall meetings, according to her Web site.

“The fact of the matter is students are simply apathetic to the inner workings of the SA,” Shakour said. “We would only get a mere 25 students or so for town halls maybe 40 if we offered pizza. If kids want to stay informed they will read The Hatchet or their Facebook feeds.”

Capp said she disagrees.

“Students do care and they will care more when the SA is working for the students is a resource for the students, and is advocating on behalf of the students.”

Capp officially takes office in early April.

-David Ceasar contributed to this report.

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