SA Senate calls on officials to continue improving financial aid services

Media Credit: Donna Armstrong | Contributing Photo Editor

Sen. George Glass, U-at-Large, reads over a resolution Monday night pressing the University to be more transparent about students' concerns about financial aid. The resolution passed unanimously.

Updated: Jan. 31, 2019 at 2:10 p.m.

The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday urging the University to better help students navigate financial aid services.

The legislation lauds the University for approving a series of changes to financial aid operations earlier this month, including matching students with financial aid advisers, offering a 24/7 chatbot and creating an advisory council comprised of students and administrators. But senators also implored officials to be transparent in implementing the changes and create an agreement between students and administrators dictating how officials will work to answer student questions and respond to concerns quickly.

The resolution also asks officials to allow the SA to select at least half of the members of the financial aid advisory council without “interference” from administrators. Senators also called on the University to pay members of the council who receive financial aid.

Sen. George Glass, U-at-Large and the sponsor of the legislation, said the resolution pressures the University to address some concerns that were not met in the initial announcement last week.

The legislation specifically mentions the qualms of 64 students who alleged on the Facebook page “Overheard at GW” earlier this month that they did not receive their financial aid packages at the start of the semester and were unable to register for classes. The resolution calls on the University to “continue to create and develop improvements” in the financial aid office to “fully reduce financial aid difficulties.”

“I think that it’s a good bill, well-written, that will build pressure on the University to enact some of the more thorough policies to actually help the financial aid office,” Glass said at the meeting.

The SA Senate also unanimously approved three bills Monday clarifying the organization’s governing documents. The first bill updated the table of contents of the SA bylaws to make subtitles bold, while a second clarified language and updated pronouns in the level 200 bylaws. A third measure corrected language in the level 300 bylaws and also clarified that the SA’s operational budget allocates $250 to the judicial branch and splits the remaining balance with one-third to the legislative branch and two-thirds to the executive branch.

The bills are part of a series of changes to the SA bylaws over the academic year to refine each section of the document and clarify outdated or incorrect wording.

“This is how it’s been done, it just hasn’t been in the bylaws, and so there’s a bit of confusion,” Sen. AJ Link, Law-G, said of the level 300 bylaw updates. “Now it’s clearly outlined, so there shouldn’t be any argument about how we do this.”

The senate also confirmed one undergraduate senator in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, one undergraduate senator in the School of Business and one graduate senator in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, filling three of the senate’s 13 vacancies. SA Executive Vice President Ojani Walthrust said an additional five senators resigned after eight initially stepped down over winter break.

The senate confirmed freshman Bishop Walton to serve as secretary of the senate and junior Georgie Britcher, the vice president of Students for Indigenous and Native American Rights, to join the diversity and inclusion assembly.

Also on Monday, the senate approved a $16,000 allocation for the South Asian Heritage Celebration and the Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration to host Tan France, the fashion expert for the Netflix television series “Queer Eye,” as a keynote speaker for an event later this semester.

This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the senate approved a $34,000 allocation for the South Asian Heritage Celebration and the Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Celebration. The senate approved $16,000. We regret this error.

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