The Student Association Senate passed a resolution Monday urging officials to expand GW’s tuition reduction as the University prepares for an online semester.
The SA Senate passed a resolution outlining its demands for the fall, like expanding the 10 percent tuition reduction for off-campus undergraduates to include graduate students and those opting to live on campus. Senators also passed a resolution encouraging officials to extend the spring semester’s Pass/No Pass grading scale to the fall semester.
Hours before the meeting, the University announced most classes will be held online and on-campus housing will be significantly reduced to curb the spread of COVID-19 as cases rise throughout the DMV and across the United States.
SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U and a sponsor of the resolution, said some SA leaders were involved in discussions with administrators when determining whether to go online but needed to sign a non-disclosure agreement to prevent the information from spreading to the GW community.
“As empathetic as I am about student health, financial burdens and lack of information, hence developing a false hope for us, I still stand on my position about going online, despite how controversial it is,” Young said. “But as long as there can be financial aid protections, tuition reductions and Student Association involvement.”
SA Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U, the chairwoman of the academic affairs committee and a sponsor of the resolution calling on officials to switch to Pass/No Pass grading for the fall semester, said switching to a pass/fail grading model gives all students the chance to succeed.
The SA issued a survey earlier this month to gather feedback about the Pass/No pass policy, which revealed that 93 percent of respondents supported implementing the policy for the fall, according to the legislation.
“The way that people learn is different, and basically we need to be able to make sure that everybody has an equal opportunity to do as well as they can, especially considering the fact that many students don’t exactly have the greatest home life,” Scales said.
Also at the meeting, SA Sen. Kate Carpenter, U-at-large, introduced a bill requiring the executive branch to notify the senate of any statements made on behalf of the SA. Anna Weber, the vice president for campus development, said she was surprised to see the SA’s statement last week in support of moving classes online because other SA members had not seen the statement beforehand.
“If we’re going to take a stance as an organization that represents all students, then we should consult as many people as possible in making that decision,” she said. “I genuinely believe voices were left out of this conversation and many questions were left unanswered, including my own, and to my understanding many other people’s in this organization.”
SA President Howard Brookins said he should have consulted with other members of the SA before releasing the statement and vowed to do so in the future. The senate voted to send the bill to the governance and nominations committee to review before holding a full senate vote.
Senators also passed a resolution calling on officials to maintain mandatory Title IX workshops for student organizations and conduct a climate survey about sexual assault on campus.
“We need changes to Title IX and we need there to be a more transparent system for reporting sexual assault,” said Scales, who sponsored the bill.
This article appeared in the July 31, 2020 issue of the Hatchet.