Nick Gumas pledges to start peer counseling program, cut internship fees if elected

Year: Junior
Major: Political communication and political science
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
Clubs/Activities: Allied in Pride
Platform: create peer counseling program, cut fees for internship credits, add more features to Student Association website
Favorite Olympic Event: Opening ceremonies
Where are you in House of Cards?: Season 2 Episode 5
What would you name the Superdorm?: I am not a creative person, you don’t want me to be naming buildings on campus
Dream job?: Having a non-profit that’s making a tangible difference in the community.

Junior Nick Gumas says he won’t need to change much about his leadership or lobbying style if elected Student Association president.

Gumas has spent the past two years working with top administrators as both an SA senator and the president of one of GW’s largest groups – a record that has helped him become the frontrunner in one of the least-contested presidential races in SA history.

“There are a whole lot of things that I’ve worked on and been successful with,” Gumas said. “The approach that I’ve used to accomplish those goals in the past is the same approach that I’ll use on these sort of larger university wide policies that I’m advocating,” he said.

Gumas’ top goals include a peer counseling program – which would train undergraduates for a semester on issues like self esteem, crisis management and sexual violence – as well as eliminating the cost for internship fees.

Gumas said he narrowed his platform to just a handful of goals because he wanted to be realistic about what he could accomplish. He said much of his work would involve administrators’ help – which he said was crucial to any SA mission.

“It’s my job to be respectful with administrators, but also to be forceful with what students want so we can work together hopefully to find common ground and make things better for everyone,” he said.

He has touted student health as a key issue after working with SA President Julia Susuni to help convince University leaders to make its campus health centers more centrally located. University President Steven Knapp announced last fall that both Student Health Services and the University Counseling Center would be relocated, but on an uncertain timetable.

Kathleen Duman, president of Active Minds, said a peer counseling system could be difficult to implement because it would require extensive training and making sure that participating students were good candidates.

Gumas also wants to allow students to take for-credit internships during the year without paying the $1,300-per credit fee. Dozens of students started an online petition on the issue about five years ago, prompting University administrators to begin counting students’ internships on their transcripts for free – but as zero credit.

The University registrar does not track how many students pay for internships throughout the year.

The junior also said he would pressure GW to accept and process more of student organizations’ financial paperwork online, a route that GW and student leaders have been planning for several years.

But group leaders still must fill out forms and meet with members of the SA finance committee to get money from the University each year.

After he was elected to the senate as a freshman, Gumas said senators do not do enough to become informed and involved about issues on campus.

“What we have now is a system where the most engaged members of the student association are the most informed and are really the go-getters,” Gumas said.

To educate more senators, Gumas wants to invite more administrators to the senate retreat that occurs each summer on campus.

Sen. Marshall Cohen, CCAS-U, said the retreat focused primarily on how the senate worked, but that most senators only had knowledge of how GW worked from their involvement outside of the SA.

“Being involved with admissions and other leadership things, I kind of had a greater view of certain offices than some of my colleagues did. And personally I think that’s something that’s kind of lacking from the perspective of some student leaders,” Cohen said.

Touting a long record of involvement in the expansion of classes that fulfill GPAC requirements, non-discrimination language in SA by-laws and the campaign to move health and wellness resources to a more central location on campus, Gumas said past experiences had prepared him for the job.

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