Despite low voter turnout, org pushes class spirit

Chances are that as you stacked pancakes onto your plate at Midnight Breakfast or watched your favorite dance groups battle it out in the Lisner Auditorium, you didn’t give much thought to the student organization that put it all together.

Class Council, an organization founded eight years ago with the focus of drumming up class spirit, played a part in putting together both events. The group also has a hand in other class-themed events, like a study abroad send-off for juniors, but seemingly continues to fly under the radar – less than 1 percent of undergraduate students voted in Class Council elections over the last three years, said Tim Miller, executive director of the Student Activities Center.

“Their elections have never had the same turnout as the [Student Association], [Program Board] and [Marvin Center Governing Board] joint elections,” said Mayra Espinoza, SAC’s student involvement coordinator. Espinoza declined to disclose how much money the organization receives from SAC, saying that it “does not currently come through the Student Association allocation process and is not public.”

Class Council Vice President Nick Profeta, a senior, said the group is different from other organizations on campus because it focuses on building unity between individual classes.

“More than any other group on campus, we really try to bring each individual class together for unique events directed specifically toward them,” he said. “It was founded with the intention to create not only school unity at GW, but specifically to create unity within each class.”

Ultimately, Class Council would like to see students’ connection to their class and their University translate into increased alumni involvement, including donations, Profeta said.

Student representatives for Class Council said they are dedicated to the Class Council mission.

“I decided to run for Class Council because I really believe in the mission of Class Council to provide intra and inter-unity for each class at GW,” junior representative Rachel Gabriel said.

Freshman representative Julia Roseman said her motivation for joininh was class spirit but also meeting others in her class.

“I wanted to get out and meet the freshman class and running to be a representative seemed not only like a good way to mingle with other students, but to also carry on my interest in representing my class and its interests,” she said.

Maggie Wilson, director of student, young alumni, and regional programs in the Office of Alumni Relations, works with Class Council on engaging students with their class.

“The more we engage students in the alumni community, the more they’ll stay engaged post-graduation. Class Council plays a large part in our efforts to engage students with the alumni community,” Wilson said.

The Alumni Association allocates $4,000 annually to carry out these initiatives and funds programs such as Alumni Dinners, Speed-Networking Nights and the “How Do I Become A…” series, Wilson said, and senior Brendan Gilmartin said his attendance at some events have strengthened his bond with the Unviersity.

“The events that I’ve taken part in this year in particular have made me feel more connected to the University. I’m sure once I get a good job I will start to give back,” he said.

Despite these efforts, not all students feel that class unity would influence their likelihood to give back to the University.

“I’m not more likely to give money in the future due to the bond to my class, but rather would be more likely to donate in the future because of a bond with the GW community as a whole,” junior Brian Hanafin said.

Hanafin said he was familiar with Class Council and its events. Gilmartin said he was a fan of the Battle of the a Cappellas event and the “How Do I Become A…” series. Still, Gabriel noted that the organization has room to grow in terms of exposure.

“I think that Class Council could reach more students by increasing and improving our campus presence,” she said.

General body elections for Class Council will take place February 24th and 25th.

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