In a largely friendly annual debate Wednesday, candidates for the Student Association’s top two spots highlighted their platforms and the changes they want to see on campus next academic year.
Roughly 75 students gathered in the Marvin Center Amphitheater, where five candidates vying for SA president and executive vice president positions fielded questions from The Hatchet, The Rival, GWTV and WRGW about topics like improving community on campus and addressing turnover in the SA Senate. The Joint Elections Commission, a body that oversees SA elections, hosted the two-hour-long debate, which was moderated by GWTV host Mychael Schnell.
Candidates first delivered opening remarks to the audience and pitched their platforms and experiences to audience members.
SA Sen. ShanTorrian Underwood, CCAS-U, a candidate for SA president, said her experiences as a first-generation student and a student of color inspired her to run for the SA’s top post and advocate for more affordable dining partners on GWorld and create a first-generation student website.
“As someone who has gone through food insecurity, as someone who is a person of color on GW’s campus, I know first hand how difficult it can be just surviving on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I want to advocate for you because I have gone through it.”
After delivering opening statements, candidates delved into specific questions about their platforms and answered targeted inquiries about topics like changing the Colonials nickname and promoting affordability initiatives.
Residence Hall Association President SJ Matthews, a candidate for SA president, said that if elected, she would advocate for students to gain tap access to every residence hall. The University started a pilot program earlier this semester granting freshmen tap access in first-year residence halls.
“Something we can do quickly is get tap access for students,” she said. “Let students start using the community spaces we already have across campus.”
Nicole Cennamo, the vice president for academic affairs and a candidate for SA president, said she wants to push the University to increase staffing in Disability Support Services. She said that if elected, she would appoint a director of accessibility to her cabinet.
“I want to make sure students know that GW is a community that empowers every single person on this campus,” she said. “Every person should be our priority, not just some.”
SA Sen. Amy Martin, ESIA-U, a candidate for executive vice president, said she would support changing the Colonials nickname regardless of whether the majority of students back the switch during a student-wide referendum next week.
“I would still support the changing because any amount of students that feel disenfranchised by this term I think is enough students to warrant a change,” she said.
Quentin McHoes, a candidate for executive vice president, said he would prioritize reducing or eliminating the cost of psychiatric assessments at the Colonial Health Center if elected. His platform includes plans to reduce or eliminate the cost of at least five on-campus expenses, including laundry, printing and transcripts.
“We have to do more to make sure students are existing in a way where they don’t feel like they are overburdened emotionally, where they are not suffering from any form of mental illness or degradation,” he said.