The interim executive vice president of the Student Association announced his candidacy for the position Thursday, making him the first candidate to jump in the race to lead the Student Association Senate.
Thomas Falcigno, a junior, will run on a platform that includes a University-wide program in which upperclassmen could retake a course they enrolled in their freshmen year for a new grade. He said the “freshmen forgiveness” policy will help students who may have let a grade slip in their transition from high school to college.
The plan would allow students to retake one class from their freshman year and replace the grade on their transcript. Falcigno said he is “working on” meeting with officials in the GW School of Business, which implemented a similar policy this semester. Business students can retake a class in their major to receive an averaged grade.
“A lot of kids, particularly freshmen, have difficulty transitioning from high school to college especially in a city this big with this many people. If you’re struggling with a class, you should have the opportunity to learn the material when you’re best set for it,” he said.
Falcigno said he’s informally met with administrators in the Office of the Registrar to better understand the policies around dropping courses, which often comes with a fee after a certain date.
He also said that in order to figure out where students spend the most money over their four years at GW, he will survey them to take stock of the charges they face.
“There are areas we can look into – academics, student life, finance – where we can accumulate costs, and all these costs add up over four years. How can we reduce those costs? Can we make the student experience here more affordable?” he said.
Falcigno said he also wants to reduce the amount students must pay for counseling sessions at Mental Health Services, an idea brought up by candidates in the past three SA elections. Students get six free counseling sessions at MHS.
“Mental health is an area we need to look into right away. At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be putting costs in front of student well-being,” Falcigno said. “I think it’s scary when we see or get the impression that health services and things like that are putting cost before students.”
Falcigno has served as interim executive vice president since Casey Syron resigned from the post last month. Falcigno was chair of the academic affairs committee for two years, and said his proudest accomplishment in his tenure as a senator is the trial run of a fall break starting this upcoming October.
He said he hopes to involve relevant student leaders in meetings with officials, which often include only SA representatives. He said he and other senators met with administrators and a member of Students Against Sexual Assault to convince the University to rescind comedian Bill Cosby’s honorary degree earlier this year, and the member of SASA was able to speak with expertise about an issue in which he and the other senators in the room were not as well-versed.
“My idea is to empower the student voice, students of marginalized communities on this campus, that in a lot of cases, don’t get listened to on their issues,” he said.
Falcigno, who double majors in political science and journalism and mass communication, is the promotional director of the Colonial Army and is a member of Beta Theta Pi. He said that as executive vice president, he wants to facilitate senators’ success.
“For me, it’s about effective communication,” he said. “If we have good communication, if I have very high standards for the work that we need to accomplish, I think we can get a lot done.”