Saumya Narechania: Keep in mind what Student Association can be

With the Student Association’s elections closing in on us, I want to remind everyone, specifically the four presidential candidates, what a good SA looks like. I, for one have not seen one in my time at GW. It seemed to me that my freshman, sophomore and junior years looked more like scandal-ridden U.S. politics than student government, though not quite of a Larry Craig caliber. And I, personally, would like this trend of productivity to continue.

To tell the truth, I cannot even remember specific accomplishments of the SA over those three years. Yet I can recall plenty from this year because it actually impacted my everyday life at GW. Obviously, my senior year memory might just be acting up, but the Nicole Capp administration seemed extraordinarily productive. The other years, to me, seemed like they did about as much as President George W. Bush is doing now.

I may sound like the candidates themselves, praising the current administration, but it will be hard, if not daunting, to top the current executive. I hope that whoever wins the election continues the progress Nicole and Brand Kroeger have started instead of changing course just to make a name for himself.

Capp could have made this easier for all of us by running for another term, but instead we have a difficult choice ahead of us. The candidate that proves to be student-centric in initiatives, like the Capp administration has been, should be our candidate of choice. Rather than biting off more than they can chew, the next student leader must have a realistic idea of what can be accomplished and stick to it, just as the SA executive has done over the last year.

For example, just last week the SA announced that Chipotle will be accepting Colonial Cash, putting it on a list of establishments like Safeway and Lindy’s Red Lion that joined the program this year. Any new addition to the program will obviously benefit students, but recruiting two of the most popular eateries around campus, including one that has apparently held out from the program for several years, is extraordinary. The inclusion of Safeway may have had the greatest impact of all new GWorld partners, though. Putting groceries on the campus card may actually lead some of us to using our dorm-like-palaces kitchens.

The SA, under Capp’s leadership and with the direction of Assistant Vice President for Community Affairs and Executive Vice President candidate Kyle Boyer, has pursued another noble student-focused effort by lobbying for a student rate for Metro fares. The project, though incomplete, is a perfect window into the mindset of the current SA. Every single student at GW and indeed perhaps students at other local universities, will benefit from a change like the one Boyer has been working on tirelessly.

It is slightly ironic that I have to keep emphasizing that the SA focus on helping the student body, but recent history until this year has seen little progress for students. It’s like sports for fans or government for citizens – who knew.

Another element that must stay in any administration dedicated to student advocacy is the recently implemented town hall meetings. By receiving direct feedback from students, the SA figured out how to prioritize and where to direct its limited resources. Also, it provided a direct channel from the mouths of the students to the ears of the University administration.

These accomplishments are a point of pride for not only those involved in the SA but GW students alike. Yet nothing is perfect – the current candidates must be willing to candidly discuss how their views and styles will differentiate themselves from the current SA leaders. Dare I say it, perhaps even note what could have been better over the past year.

While all four candidates have platforms that look progressive, detailed and thoughtful on paper, the winning candidate will be the one who keeps the optimism and potential of the SA alive.

The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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