The Student Association Senate passed a bill Monday night to show support for senior and sexual assault survivor Aniqa Raihan, who launched a petition last month to expel her assailant from the University after he received a less severe punishment than what is recommended in the student code of conduct.
Raihan started an email campaign last month calling for the assailant to be fired from his supervisor position at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center. Officials responded saying that he will not be removed from his position, leading to student protests on campus.
The senate voted unanimously in favor of supporting the demands of Raihan and Students Against Sexual Assault, which include expelling her assailant and enacting mandatory suspensions for all students found responsible for sexual violence until the survivor graduates.
Sen. Jack Jomarron, CCAS-U, said he sponsored the resolution because the SA should be a part of the conversation when a student has been mistreated or not been actively supported by adminstrators.
“The SA should advocate for survivors for all students going through this process and making sure that their concerns are being heard and respected,” Jomarron said.
Jocelyn Jacoby, the co-president of Students Against Sexual Assault, called on Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski and other officials to listen to the group’s demands and take action.
“Peter K has the ability to fix this. This is within his power,” she said.
Raihan said during public comment after the vote was passed that the bill will make a difference not only for her, but also for survivors everywhere.
“Passing this resolution may not change Peter K’s mind, but it means the world to me 20 days before my graduation,” Raihan said. “Thank you for allowing my fight to be something bigger than me.”
Raihan received a standing ovation from the senate and a large group of students who had attended the meeting.
In a statement released April 21, officials said that they were aware of the petition and email campaign, and were exploring ways to improve transparency and communication in these cases.
At Monday’s meeting, the senate also voted unanimously to mandate that students pay their Student Association fee to receive money from SA.
Sen. Nate Pasko, ESIA-U and chair of the finance committee, said he co-sponsored the bill because students at the nursing school have not been paying their SA fee. The Nursing School Association, which has received funding from the SA in the past, is associated with the school but will no longer be eligible to receive SA allocations.
All students pay $2.75 per credit hour to contribute to the SA’s budget pool used to fund student organizations.
“It is mandated that all students pay SA fees, but I don’t know what their agreement entails,” Pasko said.
Then-Sen. Sydney Nelson, ESIA-U, and Sen. Peak Sen Chua, MISPH-U – who now serve as executive vice president and president of the SA, respectively – along with 25 other senators, co-sponsored a resolution thanking SA Executive Vice President Thomas Falcigno for his service to the GW community. Falcigno is set to graduate later this month.
The resolution passed unanimously.
The senate also rejected a resolution 14 to 15 with one abstention, shooting down a resolution aimed to push the University to divest from companies supporters said contribute to Palestinian human rights violations.