SBA Senate condemns surge in Asian American violence

Updated: March 25, 2021 at 1:54 p.m.

The Student Bar Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution condemning the recent surge in violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities at its meeting Tuesday.

SBA Sen. Celeste Kim, a sponsor of the legislation, said the resolution censures the “despicable” targeting of Asian American civilians in Atlanta after six individuals of Asian descent were killed in a slew of shootings at three spas last week. The SBA also voted to endorse Student Association Sen. Charles Aborisade, U-at-Large and the chair of the SA finance committee, for SA president and SA Sen. Sofia Packer, CCAS-U, for SA vice president.f

Kim said the resolution denounces the rising trend in anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander violence and calls on GW Law administrators to “communicate developments” in its efforts to combat racism in and around the law school. She said she hopes the law school community can unite against all forms of hate and embrace intergroup solidarity in the midst of the spike in hate crimes toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities

“I’ve spoken with some of my constituents and friends who are members of the AAPI community,” she said. “And we all have a shared feeling of vulnerability, frustration, anger and a lack of safety, as if going through the COVID wasn’t challenging already.”

Riven Lysander, a second-year graduate student and first-generation Korean immigrant, said the events in Atlanta were “nothing new,” having personally seen and experienced both verbal and physical attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities

“It asks for support from our school and our peers,” Lysander said. “It asks for help in claiming, without fear, the ability of people like myself to introduce ourselves as first-generation immigrants in the spirit of Emma Lazarus, and it asks for you all to see us and what we have long endured in silence.”

Lazarus authored the poem “The New Colossus,” lines of which are engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. The poem, connected with the Statue of Liberty, is interpreted as an embrace of different cultures coming to the United States.

After meeting with and interviewing all the SA presidential and vice presidential hopefuls, SBA Director of University Affairs Maggie O’Brien, who also serves as chief judge of the Student Court, and her “team” of Ian Lam and Zamin Raza presented an overview of the candidates’ platform points at the meeting.

O’Brien said the team unanimously chose each candidate, whom she said stood out in their policies to support graduate students.

Lam said the three recommended Aborisade, the SA finance committee chair, for SA president because of his plans to support graduate students, including through creating a task force of graduate students to include their voices in SA decisions and onboarding new graduate student organizations that hadn’t requested SA funds in the past. He said they believe Aborisade has the institutional knowledge and experience working with umbrella organizations like the SBA to be best suited for the position.

Lam said the team supported Packer for SA vice president due to her plans to include a graduate student in every branch of the SA and to increase graduate students’ accessibility to resources on campus. He said the team chose Packer because she recognized the “significant devaluation” of graduate students existent at GW.

Lam said the team was impressed by Packer’s “dedication” to advocate for equity on campus through her plans to increase accessibility for community members with disabilities and awareness for gender-inclusive initiatives.

“Sofia’s thoughtfulness, her tangible goals for grad students and her commitment to increasing grad student participation and also amplifying the voices of grad students, especially to administration, we are confident to recommend Sofia as vice president,” he said.

The senate also endorsed SA Sen. Cody Ingraham, Law-G, and SBA Sen. Andrew Wise, the chair of the SBA’s rules and constitution committee, as SA law school senators.

The senate also passed three bills allocating funds to three law school student organizations – $600 to the GW Jewish Law Students Association, $80 to the GW Law School Feminist Forum and $525 to the GW Equal Justice Foundation.

This post was updated to correct the following:
An earlier version of this story stated that the senate passed a bill endorsing SA Sen. Cody Ingraham, Law-G, and SBA Sen. Andrew Wise. The senate only endorsed the two student leaders. We regret this error.

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