The best candidate for Student Association president has experience as an SA senator and a comprehensive plan to solve the biggest issues on campus.
Students should vote for Howard Brookins this week. After meeting with the six candidates running for SA president, the editorial board felt that Brookins has the experience needed to lead the organization and realistic ways to address recurrent issues like food insecurity and divestment. Brookins’ platform laid out a unique approach to solving those problems, and in his meeting with the editorial board, he demonstrated he has the ability to execute those plans.
While the majority of candidates want to expand the number of GWorld vendors to address food insecurity, Brookins proposed creating a food cooperative along F Street. The proposal puts the onus on students to see the project through, rather than relying on officials to add more GWorld vendors or create a GWorld donation system as other candidates have proposed. Students would hold themselves accountable for the co-op by launching and running it themselves. Brookins also set himself apart from others in bringing to light the issue of a food desert on F Street. Creating a food co-op in that area would help alleviate food access problems for students living in Thurston, Potomac and South halls.
Brookins also offered sound solutions to complaints in the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Administrators said they would establish an advisory council with students and administrators but have been slow to create one. Other candidates said they would push administrators to follow through on their promise, while Brookins said he would go ahead and create one that gathers and reports problems with financial aid to administrators. He also proposed administrative changes like eliminating holds for balances below $1,000 and cutting late fees. Both proposals are common-sense solutions to the issues students want fixed, and Brookins stands out from other candidates by taking part in legislation that calls for cutting late fees.
Brookins’ platform also includes a plan to combat discrimination on campus by working with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to include a more detailed explanation of consequences for acts of discrimination, harassment and racism in the Student Code of Conduct. When an anti-Semitic incident hit campus earlier this academic year, students were critical of SRR for not disclosing how they were handling the discipline of the perpetrator. Reforming the code would allow students to understand what discipline their peers may face without violating their privacy.
We also asked every candidate how they would handle a discriminatory, racist or anti-Semitic incident. Brookins’ answer displayed strong leadership and a nuanced, compassionate approach. Brookins spoke out strongly against discrimination, but he also showed character in advocating for dialogue with the perpetrator as part of the healing process. His take on discrimination was a relief, as the campus has been rocked by racist and anti-Semitic scandals in the last few years, and the SA needs a leader who can condemn perpetrators without causing more division.
Brookins’ experience and plans to combat racism go hand-in-hand with his ideas to improve racial diversity. The 20/30 Plan, which will decrease enrollment and increase the number of STEM students, is expected to hurt the University’s diversity. All of the candidates strongly opposed the 20/30 Plan, but Brookins was the only candidate to discuss how he would address diversity after it takes effect. He said he would push administrators to prioritize diversity in admissions after the enrollment plan takes effect. Brookins’ take is more forward-thinking than other candidates who only opposed the plan.
Aside from his platform points, his sheer leadership experience shows his value as SA president. He is a founding member and vice chair of the SA’s Black Senators’ Caucus and has worked to address racial problems on campus by serving on the Colonial Moniker Task Force. His work with the caucus has also prepared him to work alongside Brandon Hill – who earned The Hatchet’s endorsement for SA executive vice president. Brookins has also been on the front lines of fighting the University’s investments in fossil fuels by joining protests with Sunrise GW, and he emphasized the need for sustainability initiatives by pushing for research in renewable energies and reinvesting the endowment in renewable energy companies.
Other candidates impressed us too. Drew Amstutz offered compelling solutions to big problems in proposing a caseworker system for financial aid. Amstutz did a better job than other candidates at illustrating the steps he would take to implement points laid out in his platform. But we chose Brookins because we felt that his plans are more feasible and are attainable without the help of administrators.
Bishop Walton’s plans to address campus security were backed up with evidence from other universities, but we were not convinced that he could make them happen. George Glass impressed us with his emphasis on school spirit – something we did not see in other candidates’ platforms – but we were disappointed by the lack of major issues referenced in his platform like the strategic plan and diversity. Georgie Britcher had extensive knowledge of issues like the Colonials moniker and resident adviser contracts, but she proposed potentially expensive plans without explaining how she could sell them to officials. Christian Zidouemba brought a critical view of issues outside of what the SA typically tackles like providing coffee to law students, but we felt that his plans were not thought through.
Brookins came out on top because he has shown the experience needed to lead the student body. We want to prioritize the candidate who has the best plans to solve the biggest issues on campus, and we wanted to value experience because, with only one year, it’s better for someone who knows the ins and outs of the SA to be elected as its president.
Howard Brookins is the best candidate for SA president. Vote for him on Wednesday or Thursday.
The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Kiran Hoeffner-Shah and contributing opinions editor Hannah Thacker based on conversations with The Hatchet’s editorial board, which is composed of copy editor Natalie Prieb, managing director Leah Potter, design editor Olivia Columbus, sports editor Emily Maise and culture editor Sidney Lee.