News Analysis: Small budget, costly ideas?

The leader of next year’s Student Association Senate said he wants to continue a trend of the Senate spending a limited amount of money, but still has plans to pursue potentially costly campaign promises.

Executive Vice President-elect Brand Kroeger said he will limit next year’s Senate budget to the $1,000 currently allocated to the body. In comparison, last year’s budget was $10,000. The money saved will be directed toward student activities outside the SA, he and President-elect Nicole Capp say.

“We realize student organizations are the most important things on campus,” said Kroeger, a sophomore. “We are not spending a dime of money from student orgs.”

Despite keeping internal Senate spending in check, Kroeger wants to pursue many of his campaign initiatives, such as the reinstatement of a free newspaper program and Colonial Invasion, the basketball-season-kickoff pep rally. Administrators cut these events because of a $900,000 cut in the Student and Academic Support Services budget.

Robert Chernak, senior vice president for SASS, declined to comment on Kroeger’s plans of bringing back programs formerly funded by his department.

“No one felt the newspaper program was not a good program,” Chernak said at the time of the cuts in October 2006. “This was just something that ranked as a lesser priority than others.”

The EVP-elect said he is not certain how he will fund the program and is looking for assistance from the University. He said he is meeting with representatives from The New York Times and USA Today to discuss having free or discounted newspapers.

“We recognize it is an uphill battle. But I think the University is genuinely interested in (helping us),” Kroeger said.

In October, Chernak said Colonial Invasion was “an embellishment that could be curtailed” but did not say how much the event cost in previous years. Instead of Colonial Invasion this fall, the University sponsored “Spirit of the Night” which cost the GW $10,000.

Kroeger said he is looking to bring back Colonial Invasion-type events and is meeting with corporate sponsors to fund next year’s pep rally.

“We are going to shoot for the top,” Kroeger said. “We are going to get the campus excited. That is what the students deserve.”

The potential cost of sponsoring this event and bringing back a newspaper program is unknown, Kroeger said.

Many of his plans for the SA stemmed from his joint campaign with former SA presidential candidate David “Tito” Wilkinson, a junior. Kroeger said that some of the pair’s initiatives will not be a priority of next year’s SA.

“I recognize Nicole has an agenda,” he said of Capp’s plans for the executive. “The challenge is to build a shared vision.”

Kroeger said his proposal of wireless expansion will “probably not” be part of the SA’s main agenda, but he will encourage the University to pursue wireless in residence halls and in more academic buildings on campus.

“It is true that the University has embraced expanded wireless,” Kroeger said. “The technology is available to enhance wireless technology. They are going to have pilot programs in the dorms.”

In November, The Hatchet reported that wireless common areas would be phased into residence halls. At the time, the plans were not finalized and there was not a timeline for implementation.

Alexa Kim, spokesperson for Information Systems and Services, said last week that the University will increase wireless access in many common areas in residence halls. (See “GWireless expands to residence halls”

In his platform, Kroeger said he will work to reform the health and safety inspections by pressuring the University to mail confiscated items home. GW Risk Management employees search residence hall rooms for banned items, such as candles, halogen lamps and space heaters. Kroeger suggested that the University could use the Marvin Center’s FedEx-Kinko’s to send items home.

Nancy Haaga, managing director of Campus Support Services, said that it is unlikely that the University will return confiscated items to students, let alone mail the items to students’ homes.

“The students have to be responsible, and if they don’t do the right thing unfortunately they have to live with the consequences,” Haaga said.

The Senate is already formulating a plan for next year’s initiatives, the EVP-elect said. Recently elected senators met Sunday night to discuss a unified vision for how best to achieve their goals.

Kroeger said he realizes not every proposal before the administration will be enacted, and that it is important for the Senate to focus its efforts.

“Something that is essential to do is pick your battles,” he said. “If you have solid ideas, they are much more achievable.”

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