News Analysis: SA falls short of shared vision

Seven months after Student Association President Vishal Aswani and Executive Vice President Kyle Boyer began their tenures as GW’s top student leaders, they have accomplished very few of the goals outlined in their shared vision.

The shared vision, distributed over the summer, included a wide range of goals such as the elimination of mandatory J Street spending, the approval of a student bill of rights, improvements in academic advising, an online test bank and tutoring database and a method to facilitate outside funding of student organizations.

Aswani, a senior, is currently finalizing, which features downloadable tests also held in the SA’s Marvin Center office. The Aswani administration also held the Unity Ball last month to boost campus spirit, but the event was mostly attended by members of GW’s Greek-letter community.

Despite a largely unfinished shared vision, Aswani called the fall semester “a great success.”

“The combined efforts of the Executive and Legislative Branches have yielded tremendous results and we all within the Student Association look forward to continued success as a team,” Aswani wrote in an e-mail.

He said he is working with the University to institute the student bill of rights and noted that SA Vice President of Financial Affairs Chas Pressner, a sophomore, has made a list of corporate sponsorships for student organizations to utilize.

Boyer agreed with Aswani that progress has been made this school year, but said he is not satisfied with the number of initiatives the SA has completed. As executive vice president, Boyer is not officially a part of Aswani’s cabinet and is tasked with running the SA senate.

“I will not be satisfied until there is no mandatory (J Street) spending, nor will I be satisfied until a majority of the student body feels comfortable” with the dining arrangement, said Boyer, a junior.

Aswani said progress has been made with dining, but he did not cite specific changes and only mentioned the addition of comment boxes.

“The Student Association and the Dining Services Commission continue to work towards a more equitable dining situation for the student population,” Aswani said. “Comment boxes have been ordered and will be in service shortly. The idea of the boxes is to provide students with the opportunity for direct input through the Student Association, especially since the Sodexho contract will be up for renegotiation shortly.”

Aswani and Boyer’s perception of the SA’s progress highlights another main difference between them and last year’s Capp administration.

Last December, former SA President Nicole Capp and Executive Vice President Brand Kroeger were in the process of creating additional goals for their spring semester after they completed their first shared vision, which included the reimplementation of the GW Reads free newspaper program and the addition of Safeway into the GWorld program.

By the close of the fall semester, Capp and Kroeger had also introduced a set of popular restaurants onto the GWorld program, including Lindy’s Red Lion, and successfully lobbied for better wireless and cell phone service on campus. At this point last year, Capp and Kroeger were also advocating for a student fee increase, which was passed in February, and rollover of student J Street funds, which the University granted in April.

SA Sen. Logan Dobson, CCAS-U, who runs a blog about the SA, said he came into this year with low expectations. He said while Boyer exceeded those expectations, Aswani has fallen short.

“Few regular students know exactly what it is the EVP does, which is run the senate,” said Dobson, a sophomore. “And Kyle, combined with a very effective senate staff – big ups to the Parliamentarian Andy Greene – has actually proved to be a fairly effective EVP.”

He added, “Vishal, on the other hand, has been extremely unremarkable. I struggle to think of one thing we have now that we didn’t at the beginning of the semester that he can take credit for.”

After looking at what the SA has accomplished this year, former SA Sen. Nick D’addario, CCAS-U, said he was disappointed with the current administration.

“I am upset that the progress started under the Thorpe/Lasky administration and built upon with great success by the Capp/Kroeger administration has not been continued by this year’s administration,” said D’Addario, who graduated last year. “For example, I voted last year in the senate in favor of the student fee increase because it would better enable both student groups and the SA to serve students. I did not vote for such an increase so that the SA could charge students $5 more for Colonial Coach this year.”

Rachel Barker contributed to this report.

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