Syron makes mental health, campus dining foundation of EVP platform

Media Credit: Katie Causey | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Updated: March 23, 2015 at 11:20 a.m.

Year: Junior
Major: Political science
Hometown: Bartlett, Ill.
Clubs and Activities: Treasurer of Delta Tau Delta. 2013-present; executive chair of Fulbright Hall in Residence Hall Association, 2013-2014; vice chair of Thurston Hall in the RHA, 2012-2013; 14th Grade Players; Allied in Pride; GW Taekwondo (one belt away from black belt)
Previous SA experience: CCAS senator in the SA senate, 2014-2015; appointed member of the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students, 2014-2015
If you didn’t go to GW, where you would be going to school: “Probably somewhere in Illinois. Most likely in Chicago.”
Favorite monument: Jefferson Memorial
Captain Cookie order: “This month they had an Oreo mint chocolate chip ice cream, and I got that with peanut butter and the snicker doodle to make it a sandwich.”
Season 3 of “House of Cards” or “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”: “Season 3 of ‘House of Cards,’ because I’m in it – I’m actually an extra for the show.”
Black and blue or white and gold: Black and Blue
Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks: Dunkin’ Donuts
Android or iPhone: Android
Dream Commencement speaker: CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk

It took Casey Syron a year and a half at the University Counseling Center before he became comfortable walking through the door.

“There are so many barriers that students see before they walk into UCC, and I saw all of those,” said Syron, who first sought help as a sophomore.

He’s shaped his platform around mental health, which he called the University’s biggest issue. To combat the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues, Syron said he will work with the administration and Student Association to understand why students may not want to ask for help.

“Maybe they’re often times affected by the negative stigma often times associated with mental health and they don’t want to let their parents know that they’re going to see a counselor,” he said.

Syron said he also wants to make J Street more appealing to students by partnering with student organizations like the Food Justice Alliance to make sure student voices are heard. Students should be included in discussions once Sodexo’s contract ends in 2016, Syron said.

“We need to make sure that the next food provider is something that is healthy, organic and sustainable. Something that adheres to GW’s focus on sustainability,” he said.

He said GW should prioritize vendors who grow food in the D.C. area “because when it is locally grown it’s much more likely to be healthy.” GW signed on to the Real Food Challenge in 2014, committing to source one-fifth of all food at GW’s dining halls from local and sustainable sources by 2020.

Syron also wants to expand the University’s 4-RIDE program past M Street, its current off-campus boundary. He said in order to implement the program he would have to work with the University Police Department and Metropolitan Police Department, and declined to give definite numbers on the expansion. Last year, officials added larger 15-passenger vans to the fleet after the number of requests increased by 4 percent.

“I have friends who don’t live anywhere near campus. They feel uncomfortable walking home and they can’t afford an Uber ride home every night. It’s not fair for them to feel unsafe just walking home from the library because they can’t afford to live on campus,” Syron said.

To prioritize sexual assault prevention, Syron said he will work with student groups like the Feminist Student Union and Students Against Sexual Assault to plan sexual violence education sessions for Colonial Inauguration. A referendum to add mandatory prevention training at CI will be voted on this week after students lobbied for the change nearly all year.

At last month’s Board of Trustees meeting, SA President Nick Gumas said just one student attended a sexual violence information session during CI last summer. The University released the results of a sexual violence survey in January, which found 80 percent of students surveyed don’t know how to contact GW’s Title IX office and about a quarter of undergraduate students experience unwanted sexual behavior during their time at GW.

Syron said sessions also need to continue throughout the year and “go one step further.”

“One session is fantastic and its great that people are experiencing that during Colonial Inauguration, but we need to make sure that students are aware that organizations like SASA have training sessions throughout the year,” Syron said.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported Allied in Pride’s name as “Allied and Pride.” We regret this error.

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