SA candidates must challenge administrators to upend the status quo

Peak Sen Chua and Sydney Nelson are the Student Association president and executive vice president, respectively.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, students will have the opportunity to vote for who will represent their voice for the next year. As the current president and executive vice president of the Student Association, we’ve seen how crucial it is to advocate for the University to be and do better. Together, we’ve spent the past year pushing and challenging University administrators to upend the status quo by taking purposeful steps to evaluate every single aspect of the student experience.

To represent the student body is to be bold and open to new ideas and perspectives. Arriving in office after an unprecedented election season, we realized that the University had systematically neglected the needs, concerns and voices of students. A protectionist, insular culture failed to meet students’ basic needs and expectations.

But we have not been afraid to address these issues despite calls to withdraw under the cover of pragmatism and managed expectations. After all, student advocacy requires us to propose transformational solutions for issues that the University is too indecisive to address on its own, such as sexual assault, food insecurity, student health, academic support and campus affordability.

Real progress takes longer than a couple of months, and real change can only happen with student support. We’re excited about the projects we’ve accomplished this year, and the many more we will roll out over the next month. More importantly, we are encouraged that the hundreds of conversations we’ve started will impact the student body for years to come.

As the work continues, we’re excited to see candidates for president and EVP show dedication to furthering the progress we’ve achieved together. We established the Top Textbooks program which provides $10,000 worth of high-cost textbooks for high-enrollment courses on loan, hosted the first-ever State of GW town hall and established the Student Health Advisory Council to push for comprehensive improvements to the Colonial Health Center. We’ve worked to make major changes in University policy, from increasing money towards the dining plans and bringing Hungry Harvest to GWorld, to establishing the $2 million fossil-free Sustainable Investment Fund and Committee on Sustainable Investments and eliminating the $100 voluntary Library Fee in an effort to alleviate financial burdens.

Candidates need to push the University to meet basic standards and to achieve the preeminence that we deserve as students. The next president and EVP must dream big, but also back up their ideas with well thought-out solutions and proposals. Students and campus media should show solidarity for each other by exposing crucial issues and gaining support by partnering with student organizations.

It is better to reach higher, than to play it safe and risk going nowhere. We as students have the chance to dictate what direction the University will move in. To the candidates, 26,000 students are counting on you. Don’t let them down.

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