Updated: Feb. 22, at 7:52 p.m.
A former member of the Student Association cabinet is running for the SA presidency with a focus on community service.
Tony Hart, a junior in the Elliott School of International Affairs, is running on a platform that includes changing the way community service hours are logged at GW. He said if it were easier for students to track their service hours, the student body could be officially racking up as many as 1 million community service hours each year.
Hart, who was the director of community service in former SA President Nick Gumas’ cabinet, said the software used in the Honey W. Nashman Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service to log service hours can be difficult to use and some students don’t even know about the service.
He said he has spoken to officials in the community service office about the issues behind tracking hours and would push for the program, NobleHour, to continue to work on an app to better track student service.
“People want to do community service, they don’t want to spend time figuring out how to log their hours,” Hart said.
He said he would also encourage more students to be involved in community service in general, especially at locations close to campus, like St. Mary’s Court and Miriam’s Kitchen. He said he would also emphasize the honors students receive if they reach 100 hours of community service: White House recognition and an honors cord for Commencement.
“We don’t really take into consideration that these are also members of our community,” Hart said about local service opportunities. “We see them, we might give food or money to them, but they are a part of our community and we should be able to give back to them as much as possible.”
Hart, who is majoring in international affairs with a concentration in peace studies, said he would also create a task force of students from the Mount Vernon Campus to advocate for their facilities and resources in the Foxhall neighborhood. He lived on the Mount Vernon Campus his freshman year and is a staff member at Eckles Library.
The SA already has a director of Mount Vernon Affairs, but Hart said his task force would create a larger group of students to advocate for themselves.
“It seems to me that the wants and needs of the Vern community are not fully represented, and the residents of the Foxhall community sometimes are able to overshadow what the best needs are for the Vern community,” he said.
Officials closed a side entrance to the campus in 2014 to make the Whitehall Parkway more of the official entryway to the Vern, but residents of the campus still have GWorld tap access through that entrance.
The two-time resident adviser said he would also create a group within the SA to represent staff and their rights. He said while organizations like the Progressive Student Union host events and petitions to represent the staff perspective, he said a task force would give an official channel through the SA to present these concerns, particularly those of student staff members.
Hart is a member of multiple multicultural student groups like the Black Student Union and said as SA president he would continue to advocate for renovations for the Multicultural Student Services Center.
Last year, Gumas called for smaller MSSC updates, like new couches and computers, while he and other students pushed for larger improvements.
“The biggest thing I hear is the Student Association is a bunch of students who don’t look like them and can’t readily and personally advocate on their needs, so diversifying the Student Association even more so,” Hart, a first-generation American with an Egyptian background, said. “It’s getting there, but even more so.”
This post has been updated to reflect the following clarification:
The Hatchet reported that Tony Hart is a member of the Organization of Latino American Students. While he has attended events hosted by the group, he is not an official member.