SA leaders: Student voice is on our side, vote in the SA elections

Ashley Le is the Student Association president. Yannik Omictin is the chief of cabinet to the SA president.

It’s 8:30 a.m., and our busy day is just getting started. The Board of Trustees meeting is in half an hour, followed by a meeting with the Faculty Senate’s educational policy committee. There’s still so much we have to do. Is the speech ready? What about the report on classroom clicker usage? How are we going to convey that food insecurity is a serious concern for students at GW?

Alright. Just breathe.

Remember, we’ve got the power of student voice on our side. We recognize the immense responsibility we hold and are honored by the opportunity to elevate their stories. We know that our truths are important and that existing at GW isn’t easy. Students are counting on us to tell their stories without omitting any detail even if, for administrators and trustees, our truth can be hard to face.

Remember, there will be consequences if we fail. We know students might have to spend more money buying yet another redundant clicker system for the economics class, or keep paying that unnecessary $1,575 if they want to take up to 18 credits. We can’t be afraid that a project might take too much time to accomplish or may be too bold to take on.

Alright. Here we go.

The Grand Ballroom is packed with high-level officials. The Hatchet’s here too; Dean Cissy Petty is giving us a big smile and a thumbs-up from the other side of the room. Wait, we get to sit at the table with the trustees? Dope.

It’s still so surreal that we are one of the few members who have a speaking role. The trustees are going to vote now. Do we think the 18th credit policy is going to pass?

Yes, yes it did. GW, this one is for you!

Next on our calendar is the Faculty Senate’s education policy meeting. We have to give a shoutout to the senators and cabinet members who worked on this clicker survey. The result is incredible and faculty are in awe that we have more than 800 responses.

Hold on a second. Did Deputy Provost Terry Murphy just say that she supported us and our recommendations? The countless hours of research really do pay off.

It’s 8:50 p.m., and we’ve had a long and upsetting day. A student just told us that they got called a racial slur in their class. We also learned that some of our freshman friends are considering transferring because they just don’t feel a sense of belonging at GW. And why are students still waiting for their financial aid packages, several weeks into the second semester?

Why do we feel so powerless in the face of such unacceptable situations? There must be something we can do. Oh, the senate meeting is starting. We’ll have to come up with a game plan afterward.

Someone just asked a question about a bylaw. We frantically pull the bylaws document up on our computers and search for the relevant line. Not exactly the sexiest work, not something we can put on a resume, but it needs to happen for the meeting to run smoothly.

Two hours later and we’re still in the meeting. Sometimes, senate meetings run past midnight. We can see the exhaustion in everyone’s eyes, and yet they’re still here, even graduate students who may miss the last Metro out of Foggy Bottom to get home.

But see, here’s the thing. The reason why we are willing to stay for this long, to endure the petty drama and the bureaucratic procedures, is because we know this work is important. Each co-sponsorship to a student organization for an impactful event, each debate on addressing important issues – we know they can drag on, but if we want each and every student at GW to have the best experience possible, then we know that these are the conversations we have to have.

It’s election week already, a year goes by faster than we thought.

There have been many frustrating and stressful moments. But we know they are all worth it in the end, when your concern is heard at the highest level of University administration, when an unnecessary cost is eliminated from your tuition, when your story is the reason for changes in University policies.

The next generation of SA leaders is going to pick up right where we left off, humbled by the opportunity to serve all of you. Each candidate for an executive position this year has pledged to prioritize transparency in some way and improve on our efforts to help all of you understand what we do in this organization.

So GW, we’re serious when we say that the Student Association can’t do this without you. Take a moment to get to know the candidates, ask them questions and make your voice heard on March 27 and 28.

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