SA reflects on a year of progress

On one wall of Student Association Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger’s office hangs a Hatchet editorial from February 2007 which says he “seems to completely miss the point on the main purpose of the SA – advocating for student needs.”

On another wall hangs “A Shared Vision for Student Advocacy,” a document that outlines the goals he set for the SA this year.

“I have kept those things on my wall to keep me motivated,” said Kroeger, a junior. “I said, “By God, these folks are wrong and I am going to show them they’re wrong.”

Kroeger and SA President Nicole Capp said the executive accomplished almost all of those goals this year, and that they have changed the way students perceive the student-governing body. They will step down from their posts Thursday, when President-elect Vishal Aswani and Executive Vice President-elect Kyle Boyer are sworn into office.

“The SA has become more effective and productive this year, and I think students have come to trust the Student Association,” said Capp, a junior. “They feel confident that if they bring forth their problems and feedback, that the SA will do everything in its power to communicate those problems and feedback to the administrators and really push hard to see change at this University.”

Capp and Kroeger completed most of their main initiatives only months after assuming their terms in the SA executive last spring.

Within the first month after summer break, Safeway began accepting GWorld, free newspapers returned to the residence halls and Colonials Invasion once again kicked off the basketball season.

Kroeger said these accomplishments were not as important as the work done on issues that students brought to the attention of the SA throughout the year.

He said the rollover of mandatory J Street spending money for freshmen and sophomores was one of these concerns. After lobbying Sodexho, which operates J Street, Capp and Kroeger persuaded the food service provider to allow for a rollover of half or all of a student’s unspent J Street dining funds.

“My proudest moments would be whenever students came to us with a problem, for instance rollover,” Kroeger said. “That was completely generated by student feedback. My proudest moments are when we succeeded when students wanted us to succeed.”

Student Activities Center Director Tim Miller said Capp and Kroeger’s ability to work together allowed them to stay focused on accomplishing their goals.

“I think they did a very good job of staying focused and not getting distracted by every little (issue) that came up,” Miller said. “They addressed things that were important when they came up, but they never let themselves get completely distracted by them and lose focus.”

The year was not without controversies.

Shortly after the start of the fall semester, Capp issued her first and only veto to block the SA’s sponsorship of GW F.E.E.D., an initiative started by SA Sen. OG Oyiborhoro (CCAS-U) to help local homeless.

Some of the program’s sponsors disapproved the methods used by Oyiborhoro to acquire funding for GW F.E.E.D. Some of Oyiborhoro’s actions disregarded the SA’s procedure for fund allocation.

Before Capp intervened, the initiative was slated to receive $6,000 of SA money for T-shirts, buttons, banners and other promotional material. As a compromise, Capp gave GW F.E.E.D. $450 of “non-student-fee SA revenue account funds” to purchase banners for the event’s kickoff.

“I do not support senators getting allocations of money to do their own events and programs,” Capp said. “It reminds me of pork barreling, and that is not something I support.”

She added, “The intent of the program was positive. It wasn’t a bad idea. We just disagreed on how to carry out the idea.”

Controversy ensued again in December when Sens. Eugene Beckley (CCAS-U), Jasmine Gaskins (ESIA-U), Eric Woodard (CCAS-U) and Oyiborhoro walked out during a senate vote to establish online voting for this year’s SA election. The body later approved online voting.

Beckley, a sophomore, said Kroeger was not calling on the senators during the debate on the electoral reforms. At the time she said Kroeger’s actions were racist.

The SA senator has since apologized to Kroeger for the walkout, Kroeger said.

“I understand people getting caught up in emotion, but as an organization we are not defined by moments like that,” Kroeger said. “We are defined by our successes, and throughout the entire year I would say (GW F.E.E.D. and the walkout) . consumed about .01 percent of my time and my thoughts with regards to the Student Association.”

He added, “Whenever we see these difficulties you can let them be difficulties or you can let them be opportunities.”

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