Even as the school year is just beginning, the Student Association can already claim success in accomplishing major initiatives promised by President Nicole Capp and Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger. This success is commendable, especially given the SA’s recent track record of inaction, but the governing body should not shy away from tackling new issues and projects vital to student life.
Capp and Kroeger’s term, which began only in May, has already managed to meet a host of student demands, including Safeway beginning to accept Colonial Cash, the reinstatement of the GW Reads newspaper program and the return of basketball’s Colonial Invasion.
Amidst all the praise, however, the SA should by no means use these achievements as an excuse to hang up their metaphorical hats for the year. As GW is in the midst of extensive changes, the SA has a responsibility to truly pay attention to student wants and concerns.
As students make their way back to a new GW, SA leaders should utilize this time to truly understand the wants and needs of their fellow students. Whether by survey, town hall meetings or polls, soliciting student feedback should be a crucial element in developing future SA policies. Students will develop new ideas as the year progresses and the SA should be tuned in and ready to advocate when the time and cause arises.
The decision to mandate underclassmen to spend a required amount of Colonial Cash at J Street could bring harsh criticism in the coming months, especially from sophomores used to more dining freedom. SA officials should continue to be tuned in to student dining concerns and be ready to solicit those concerns to GW and dining administrators.
While no dining situation will ever satisfy everyone, the SA should be tuned in to the majority opinions of students and decide when and where to act accordingly. Students are counting on an administration that has already delivered to continue to add to a resume of success.
Although dining is an important aspect to student life, SA administrators should not limit their scope of advocacy. Issues ranging from academics to University policies are places where student voices need to be heard – and where the SA is the ideal advocate.
SA administrators also hold a unique position in that their collective voices may be heard louder than any individual student. The student body needs to be able to express their ideas and concerns to SA leaders with confidence that they will be heard – whether it be by Capp or new University President Steven Knapp. In this year of transition, the SA must do all it can to acquaint Knapp with the campus cultures and its corresponding needs.
This page hopes that this year’s administration can avoid and learn from the mistakes of their predecessors. Truly listening to students must be the norm and not the exception and inaction should not be part of the SA’s vocabulary. Finally, don’t mar an already fruitful administration with scandals that detract from the true purpose and potential of GW’s student governing body.
This article appeared in the August 30, 2007 issue of the Hatchet.