Hatchet endorsement: Nick Gumas for Student Association president

Media Credit: Samuel Klein | Photo Editor

Junior Nick Gumas

Nick Gumas and Daniel Egel-Weiss both have the resumes of Student Association presidential hopefuls. They have both spent the past two years serving on the SA and are well-connected to administrators.

Media Credit: Samuel Klein | Photo Editor
Junior Nick Gumas

Gumas, CCAS-U, leads the Senate’s student life committee and boasts a strong record of pushing for anti-hazing protections and more academic options for Columbian College of Arts and Sciences students.

Egel-Weiss, the senate’s president pro tempore, sits on the finance committee and helped lobby to bulk up the SA’s budget last year.

But only Gumas has demonstrated the forethought to put together goals that tackle high-level but achievable issues like student health and college affordability. Based on the candidates’ platforms and a discussion with the editorial board, we endorse Nick Gumas for SA president.

Gumas’ mix of goals are diverse and reasonable – a combination of small action items and ones with longevity that later SA administrations can continue. By using his role as a senator this year to help spearhead plans to bring GW’s health and counseling centers to campus, he has made tight connections with administrators in Rice Hall and University Counseling Center director Silvio Weisner.

This head start leads into what he told us would be his main goal as SA president: creating a peer counseling program in the UCC. This would have widespread effects on the student body as a whole, given the pervasiveness of mental health concerns among college-aged students. Of Americans aged 18 to 24, over one in four struggle with issues such as anxiety and depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

With the peer counseling initiative, Gumas would help make progress in solving a grave issue with little cost to the University. Gumas is using Cornell’s successful peer counseling program as a model, while also picking up on the momentum of SA president Julia Susuni and executive vice president Kostas Skordalos, who have spent months lobbying for the consolidated Student Health Service and UCC move.

He knows that the peer initiative may not be completed under his tenure as president, given that he must assess best practices, help GW recruit the program’s leadership and determine how to carefully train the counselors. However, because it aligns with the current SA’s long-term agenda, future administrations can easily pick up his progress.

Egel-Weiss, on the other hand, has nothing on his platform related to the UCC or SHS, despite including mental and physical well-being as a key tenet of his platform. This squanders a significant amount of administrative support and financial backing cultivated over the past year.

The SA presidency requires taking the baton and passing it off seamlessly, and Gumas appears aware of this. Egel-Weiss’ platform involves starting anew, but not necessarily in a good way.

Two of his main goals are to eliminate the $150 fee student organizations pay to rent GWorld machines for events and ensure that the 4-RIDE system prioritizes students who are waiting alone. These resemble senatorial ambitions, not presidential ones.

Egel-Weiss’ platform does, however, include one truly substantive agenda item: recruiting alumni to take on mentorship roles for undergraduates and host them as interns in their fields. But while this is a high-minded and long-term goal, it doesn’t seem feasible for the SA to organize. When pushed for specific details of how the program would function, Egel-Weiss could not deliver.

Egel-Weiss is charismatic, knowledgeable about the University and considers how his goals would be received by administrators, not just students. But his thinking is far too narrow and short-term.

This isn’t to say that Gumas’ platform is air-tight, but he was able to mix lofty goals with simple tasks, bringing an important balance to his platform.

Gumas’ second most important goal is to push for students to receive free class credit for their internships. Though taking steps to make GW more affordable is critical, he exaggerates this initiative’s importance. The problem is mostly limited to students who take internships for credit over the summer.

During the academic year, students can already take one-, two- or three-credit internships for no extra charge as long as they stay under the 17-credit limit. They can even take a zero-credit internship course in CCAS. Gumas gives an over-complicated solution to something easily remedied by an email blast about the options that already exist.

He should, however, build on this goal by continuing to focus on affordability issues that affect many students.

Gumas also wants to bring back the Living Learning Communities program, which was axed in 2011 in favor of the more popular affinity housing alternative. He noted that LLCs increase retention rates, student happiness and academic success. While his head is in the right place, there are easier ways to garner these advantages than through LLCs – such as Greek life, athletics and any number of student organizations – without re-introducing a complicated and flawed program.

While Gumas’ and Egel-Weiss’ student government resumes are similar, the editorial board’s endorsement came down to the most important difference between the two candidates: Gumas’ ability to see the presidency as a continuum and Egel-Weiss’ neglect to think past his single, year-long term.

Gumas openly acknowledges that his top priority, the peer-counseling program, may not be completed during his term, but he can see its impact on the University years down the line. He’s willing to do the legwork on projects that will best benefit future classes of GW students.

If Gumas follows through with his goals, he’ll be able to leave an immediate impact on the University while laying the groundwork for future SA administrations. And this speaks louder than any resume.

Vote for Gumas for SA president Wednesday or Thursday.

The Hatchet’s editorial board for endorsements included: contributing opinions editor Jacob Garber, director of external affairs Josh Perlman, design editor Jenna Bernick, copy editor Robin Jones Kerr, assistant copy editor Rachel Smilan-Goldstein, assistant design editor Sophie McTear and contributing culture editor Emily Holland. Opinions editor Justin Peligri recused himself from the endorsement process.

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