Updated: Feb. 21, 2016 at 11:07 p.m.
A junior with a year of experience on the Student Association Senate announced her candidacy for SA President Monday.
Sen. Erika Feinman, CCAS-U, is running on a lofty platform that includes adding one graduate and one undergraduate student to the Board of Trustees, which she says will help GW be more accountable to students.
“It’s something that has been continuously talked about on our campus, continuously supported on our campus, but it’s something that just hasn’t happened yet,” she said.
Feinman said the lack of a student voice was clear in decisions like last year’s cuts to the music department and the initial decision to not rescind Bill Cosby’s honorary degree following allegations of sexual assault.
The Student Association has tried to put student members on the Board of Trustees for more than a decade. Administrators have said the trustees’ bylaws prevent any student or faculty member from sitting on the 34-member board.
The SA created a committee two years ago that spent four months researching the possibility of a student representative on the Board of Trustees, though it opted not to publicly release the report. Feinman said she read the report and attributed the failure to put students on the board to a lack of research on how other colleges achieved the same goal.
“I believe this is one of the reasons why past efforts for shared governance have not been successful. We need an implementation plan and someone who is willing to take the lead on this initiative and make it the executive cabinet’s priority,” she said.
Seven of GW’s 14 peer schools – American, Washington, Duke, Southern Methodist, Tufts and Emory universities, as well as the University of Southern California – include students on their Boards of Trustees.
Feinman said she wants to reduce the costs to visit the Colonial Health Center by reducing the $30 co-pay for a health appointment by $10 for students without GW health insurance plan. Students on the plan do not have to pay the fee.
She said she also hopes to implement a more official referral service for all health-related issues that would allow for students without the GW insurance plan to cross reference other providers and see if there is a more affordable option. The Colonial Health Center currently provides referrals to students who visit.
“For many students, being at college is the first time they are away from home and likely the first time they will go to the doctor by themselves. I want to ease this transition for students to ensure that they are safe, healthy and getting the medical attention that they need,” she said.
Feinman said she would also like to reduce the cost of double-sided printing at GW’s printing kiosks, a topic brought up by SA President Andie Dowd at a Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month.
Feinman said she would also like to create a position on the SA that would focus entirely on sustainability, in line with GW’s other green programming. SA senators voiced their support for divestment last year when they passed a referendum allowing for the student body to vote on their thoughts of the issue.
Feinman, who majors in political science and women’s studies, said she would also like to change the title of the executive cabinet position in charge of diversity and inclusion from director to vice president to give minority groups a more official voice in the SA.
Diversity and inclusion have been a major focus of the Student Association recently. Over the last few months the SA appointed a committee to review and write a series of new bylaws so that multicultural and minority groups received equal treatment in how they are given funds.
Feinman served as a member of the Feminist Student Union executive board for three years and is also a member of Phi Sigma Sigma.
“All of my experiences in all of these different organizations have allowed me to essentially be able to ensure that I was involving student voices from a variety of different communities,” she said.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Erika Feinman is a two-time SA senator. She has been on the senate one year. This post was also updated to include additional peer schools who have a student representative on the Board of Trustees. We regret this error.