Updated: Feb. 12, 2020 at 10:28 a.m.
A Student Association senator is kicking off his campaign for executive vice president – his second time running in as many years.
Senior and SA Sen. Quentin McHoes, ESIA-U, who transferred to GW in fall 2018, said he will return to GW as a fifth-year undergraduate next semester. McHoes said his two years in the SA, consistent contact with administrators and executive positions across multiple organizations make him qualified to tackle issues like affordability, food insecurity and student mental health.
“I came away with a thought that I definitely wouldn’t be able to leave GW without knowing that I did something to truly make the experiences for all students, particularly those who are struggling the most just a little bit better,” McHoes said. “We have to think about how well we can make something easier for those who come after us.”
McHoes must garner at least 500 signatures to qualify as a candidate, and the Joint Elections Commission, which oversees the race, must approve him as a candidate. Registration begins Feb. 15, he said.
In his year and a half on campus, McHoes said he has served as the SA vice president for undergraduate student policy, an executive board member for Class Council, GW NAACP vice president and a member of student health center search committees.
McHoes said he will work with administrators to incorporate “flexible” student financial policies, like the resolution the senate passed last month urging officials to exempt students with an outstanding balance of $1,500 or less from paying late fees. He said customizing student payment plans helps allay financial stress on students who come from low economic backgrounds.
“The issue is that students who are struggling the most are going to be those who are the most financially burdened,” McHoes said.
McHoes said he has gathered feedback from administrators like Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Cissy Petty, Executive Director of Student Financial Assistance Michelle Arcieri and Associate Director Ruth Hoch, on his proposed changes to payment plans and protection policies.
McHoes added that he wants to increase communication with student organizations by bringing student leaders along with him to administrative meetings and request that officials reach out to student organizations on a consistent basis. He said student groups should focus on co-hosting events that increase student engagement instead of events designed to raise funds.
“I would like to see our relationship be less focused on the purse and more focus on what we can do to collaborate together,” McHoes said. “We’ve seen proof of success with the LGBTQIA health conference that was recently hosted and co-sponsored with the Student Association, and it was in a supportive role.”
He said he intends to institute administrator and student positions dedicated to finding and recruiting potential GWorld dining partners and mandating that all dining and non-dining GWorld students use a regular meal-deal system, regardless of whether or not a student lives off campus.
Administrators pushed to include more meal-deals, or discounted food deals, for students in 2018, but few vendors got on board.
McHoes said he has spoken with members of the Board of Trustees, University President Thomas LeBlanc and student employees about increasing the number of GWorld dining partners.
“I think that we need to be focusing on the most vulnerable among us when it comes to addressing these types of problems,” McHoes said. “And I think we also need to be respectful to students who are wealthier or come from more economically stable backgrounds who might not feel like they need a meal plan at all.”
McHoes said he wants to increase student privacy for those seeking mental and emotional support to ensure students feel comfortable asking for help. The Colonial Health Center, located in the Marvin Center, provides students with physical and mental support services.
He said moving emotional health services to another section of the Marvin Center and enabling students to make emotional and mental health appointments online – a feature not currently available to students – could alleviate concerns about current counseling procedures. McHoes said the details about a new physical location for the services have not been discussed with officials.
Students quipped that CHC staff members are not adequately trained and that the center is not organized to properly provide mental health support and physical diagnoses. Over the past few years, officials have increased the number of free mental health sessions, moved health records to an electronic system, expanded office hours and built a clinic on the Mount Vernon Campus.
McHoes said he worked with Petty, who oversees the health center, SA Executive Vice President Amy Martin and former SA senator ShanTorrian Underwood over the summer on a search committee looking for a new CHC associate dean for health and wellbeing.
“I have been about breaking down barriers for my entire life,” McHoes said. “Particularly for young people and for students, I think that as someone who has struggled with mental and emotional health for many years and who has been in counseling for many years, this is an issue again, that’s very deeply important to me, which is why I’m committed to fighting for it.”
McHoes said he wants faculty and staff to undergo the same diversity trainings and modules as students. In a meeting with LeBlanc last Sunday, McHoes said he agreed to involve faculty and administrators in diversity discussions.
“All students who are undergraduate and graduate who come to the University need to know what values we convey that we uphold,” McHoes said. “They need to practice those values, and they need to have the opportunities to learn and grow with their peers and with the members of the administration, faculty and staff.”
This post has been updated to reflect the following clarifications and correction:
This article has been updated to clarify a quote and paraphrase from McHoes. The Hatchet incorrectly reported that McHoes transferred to GW last spring. McHoes ran for EVP last spring, but transferred to GW in fall of 2018. We regret this error.