As the semester closes, the Student Association has completed a slew of internal reforms but is still working to complete the more tangible results promised during the campaign last spring.
With the exception of passing a record-high initial allocations bill for student organizations, disbursing more than $500,000, the bulk of the SA’s undertakings have been on internal SA matters, an increasing trend within the student governing body over the past three years.
The SA Senate voted to disband the rules committee beginning next year, a move that only effects SA procedure. Aside from confirming more student senators to fill its empty seats, the body’s only other major piece of legislation passed this semester was to create a program to partner senators with individual student organizations in an effort to increase advocacy in the organization.
SA President Jason Lifton said one of the SA’s bigger accomplishments has been rearranging its fourth floor Marvin Center office. The SA purchased a new computer and copy machine to meet the increased demands of the student organizations seeking to use them, and extended its office hours to accommodate student needs.
“We have been subscribing to the mentality that success begins at home, and in our case, the home is the SA office,” Lifton said.
Earlier this year, the SA also formed an agreement with Kaplan Testing to provide a 10 percent discount on all graduate school practice exam prep services for students and alumni.?As the semester comes to an end, a majority of the SA’s projects are still in the works with plans to be completed during the spring semester.
“With the SA turnover every year, the good work people do gets left in the dust,” said SA Sen. Charlie Rybak, U-At Large, noting there is a tendency for projects to be forgotten at the end of the year.
SA Sen. Meredith Waters, SPHHS-U, chair of the SA Academic Affairs Committee, said her committee’s top priorities have been Gelman Library renovations and the handling of the Voluntary Library Gift, an item on the tuition bill that gives students the option to donate a tax-deductable gift to the library. Gelman is a perennial concern among students for some time and the SA has made it a top priority to improve it, although renovation fundraising efforts have largely been stalled.
The only library improvements completed this semester were replacing old desks and tables with new ones, and reupholstering couches on the sixth floor.
“It’s just one thing after the next,” Waters said. “We hope to see more of it completed by spring semester.”
Lifton added that he has been working with University Provost Steven Lerman and University President Steven Knapp to set up a student group to help prioritize what needs to be fixed in Gelman.
“We need to be focusing on updating the library to fit the increasingly collaborative nature of student work,” Lifton said.
Lifton defended the overall lack of substantial improvements for the student body by saying the SA is working on larger projects that take more time to fix.?He added that he and SA Executive Vice President Rob Maxim have been working with Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell to improve GW’s 4-RIDE system, and have been meeting with Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Judicial Services Tara Pereira on a monthly basis to seek SJS reform as well.
Still, the SA’s achievements this year outweigh those of the two previous administrations under Julie Bindelglass, who made only minor improvements including installing a microwave in J Street, and Vishal Aswani who was ineffective and considered paranoid by his staff.
“We’re looking forward to continuing our work into the spring semester and look forward to seeing them through to completion,” Lifton said.