There’s a new way for the student perspective to be involved in University decisions.
The Division of Student Affairs advisory council held their first in-person meeting last month, the University said last week. Members of the group focused their conversation on aspects of student life including health, counseling and career services, and plan to prioritize feedback on DSA plans over the coming months.
The council was announced earlier this year as a way to provide external thoughts on GW’s student life programs and suggest new ways to work with faculty and officials to devote time to student services.
There are currently 18 alumni, parents and community leaders serving on the council. Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said in an email that the council continues to recruit alumni, parents and friends to serve.
Konwerski said that the council launched with an initial conference in last April and an on-campus meeting in October. The meeting focused on educating the council members about how they can support students and discussing the work of student affairs officials at GW.
Alumnus Ari Massefski said he was invited to attend the inaugural meeting by Konwerski to provide a perspective on student life at GW. Massefski, who graduated in the spring, previously served as Residence Hall Association president and chief of staff for former Student Association president Julia Susuni.
“My voice is one, but I would hope that in the future this council is able to further the inclusion of student voices in effecting change at GW, which was something I was passionate about while I was at GW,” Massefski said.
Massefski said the meeting broadly covered student life and said he believes the council is a formal way for the student voice to be included in University decision-making.
“This is a good way to make sure that student feedback is being taken into consideration when GW is deciding what to spend money on, what to prioritize and how to prioritize it,” Massefski said.
Each member of the new council is required to make financial contributions in support of student affairs because every member is also a member of the Luther Rice Society, which includes donors that give annual leadership gifts.
Josh Lasky, a council member and a double alumnus who earned his master’s degree in 2009, said the goal of the group is to make sure that GW is doing everything possible to support students and provide a healthy, safe and productive environment for them. He said members of the group are still figuring out a specific agenda for the council and the first meeting was just an introduction.
“We are all still figuring out what the best possible use of the members of the advisory council is going to be and, like I said, this first meeting was just an introductory one,” Lasky said. “I am looking forward to doing what I can and providing the best possible student experience for those attending GW.”
Lasky said the council will be used as a “sounding board” to provide feedback on the plans proposed by Konwerski and other leaders in the students affairs office. The council will be honest and forthright, asking potentially uncomfortable questions and making data-driven decisions in the best interest of students, he said.
This is GW’s 19th advisory council: The other councils advise officials in areas like athletics and research. Lasky said this is the University’s first council to support student affairs.
“There has never been an advisory council to support the Division of Student Affairs,” Lasky said. “That is actually perplexing to me because it provides some of those oversights and accountability functions that advisory councils can provide.”
Caroline Haskins and Lila Weatherly contributed reporting.