SA executives try to wield early influence

Less than 24 hours after they were elected, next year’s top student lobbyists had already met with officials in charge of the newest residence hall project to help shape design plans before GW breaks ground this summer.

Juniors Julia Susuni and Kostas Skordalos joined the current Student Association executives in a talk with the ‘superdorm’ design team and administrators to push for more lounge space, study rooms, fast-food vendors and multipurpose rooms for dance practices, yoga classes and speakers.

Susuni and Skordalos were elected next year’s SA president and executive vice president Thursday. The $130 million residence hall will merge Crawford Hall, The Schenley and The West End by 2016.

Media Credit: Delaney Walsh | Contributing Photo Editor

Skordalos said that while architects were receptive to all the design ideas, administrators pulled back, reminding the students that they “can’t have everything at once in one space.”

Susuni and Skordalos both won their races office by 59 percent – wide margins that both said put weight behind their goals. Susuni, the fourth-ever female SA president, is also the first female to hold the post since 2009.

This year’s SA elections saw a record 4,855 ballots cast, Joint Elections Committee chair Jordan Thomas said. Sophomore Mike Morgan, senior Hugo Scheckter and freshman Tywan Wade earned second, third and fourth place respectively.

“There are going to be some things we’re doing that will need student support for those conversations to be strong,” Susuni said. “I hope that by so many more people voting in this election than in other elections that it will be something really helpful.”

With student space topping both executives’ goals for third year, Susuni and Skordalos will face the challenge of shaping long-term development plans. SA President Ashwin Narla and his second-in-command Abby Bergren were shut down on a majority of their proposals to expand student space this year.

But Skordalos said he thinks he and Susuni can still push for a commitment to invest five years down the line. He said during the transition into office, he and Susuni will meet with Narla and Bergren to learn “what they’ve been doing behind the scenes” to position themselves strategically.

“I hate to believe the money is not there. Ashwin and Abby have done a fantastic job laying the foundation. They’ve really opened the door, but it’s up to Julia and me to bust the door wide open,” Skordalos said.

This year’s races did not require a runoff for the first time in three years. SA election rules call for a runoff if no candidates capture more than 40 percent of the total vote.

Susuni said three goals will top her list of issues to tackle when she takes office next month: putting Trader Joe’s on GWorld and researching graduate student issues, like the policies for serving alcohol at events and adding graduate student lounge to Gelman Library.

During her campaign, she also pledged to move Student Health Service closer to campus and improve career services.

She said she doesn’t know who she will pick for the 11 spots in her cabinet yet, or if she will look inside or outside the SA to fill them. The selection process typically occurs at the end of April.

Skordalos beat sophomore Mike Adam by more than 800 votes to become the second-highest student advocate.

Skordalos said his first action will be to “bring the Senate together.”

“I need to make sure the Senate is there and efficient to make sure the student body is getting what they voted for,” he said.

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