SBA Senate pressures University to expand U-Pass to part-time law students

Media Credit: Anthony Peltier | Staff Photographer

SBA Sen. Shallum Atkinson said students who leave campus late at night are often concerned for their safety.

The Student Bar Association Senate passed a resolution urging the University to enroll part-time law students and the rest of the student population in U-Pass at its meeting Tuesday.

The University will automatically enroll all undergraduate students in the program to receive unlimited Metro rides for $100 per semester while graduate students can opt-out of the program, but officials did not mention whether part-time or non-degree students would also be included in the plans. SBA Sen. Shallum Atkinson, a first-year law student, said the University should enroll part-time law students, who take 11 credits or fewer, in the program because of the centrality of public transportation at a city school like GW.

“We don’t want to say this is the biggest problem in the world,” Atkinson said at the meeting. “But obviously we talked about affordability in the last couple of meetings, and transportation is a big part of living in a city and going to school in a city center.”

Atkinson, who represents many part-time and evening students, said students who attend evening classes often feel “uncomfortable” leaving campus at late hours because of safety concerns and that they could dodge ride share service charges with a subsidized Metro pass.

“Here we take nine credits as evening students, we’re here four days a week,” Atkinson said. “We do remote work for two and a half hours, three hours a night and wouldn’t qualify.”

The senate passed a resolution urging GW Law to take “long-term measures” to improve safety on campus in the aftermath of an assault on campus last month, when a female staff member suffered serious injuries in the G Street Parking Garage. The garage is part of the same building as the Law Learning Center, where the senate holds its meetings.

The senate also passed a resolution condemning antisemitism in the wake of the desecration of a Torah scroll at the Tau Kappa Epsilon townhouse last month that launched a campus-wide dialogue about preventing further acts of hate against the Jewish population. SBA Sen. Rurik Asher Baumrin, who sponsored the resolution, said antisemitism at GW is a “life or death issue,” and GW should include student input in their decisions to take action and keep Jewish students safe.

“It frustrates me that we can’t just put a stop to this type of behavior that will happen over and over and over again,” Baumrin said.

The senate confirmed Alexis Pozonsky, a third-year law student, as the director of the faculty tenure and promotions student representatives committee, which recommends professors for tenure and promotion. Senators rejected her nomination in August one vote short of confirmation because some were concerned about her “neutrality” in the committee and a lack of preparation for the role.

SBA Sen. Nicole Karem, a second-year law student, said neutrality should not hinder Pozonsky’s nomination because no one is “neutral” on every topic presented to them, including matters of granting tenure. She said Pozonsky should be confirmed because she is qualified for the position, no matter her political leanings.

“She failed by one vote last time after an hour of very intense debate, and I think she should be given a chance,” Karem said. “She clearly is qualified for this position and cares about the student body, and I will happily be voting yea.”

The senate also unanimously confirmed third-year law student Olutola Ogunrinde, first-year law student Jack Chen, third-year law student Priya Patel and first-year law student Amaiya Johnson as members of the faculty tenure and promotions student representatives committee. Senators confirmed Kyle Atwood, a first-year law student, to the elections committee overseeing SBA elections.

The senate also voted to approve three ad hoc funding requests for law student organizations.

Senators approved $1,148 for the Anti-Corruption and Compliance Association’s happy hour and panelist event this fall, about $1,950 to the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association to purchase six tickets to the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Convention and about $1,950 for the Law Yoga Club for the remainder of their events.

The senate also approved a joint resolution to “combat” the drinking culture at GW Law, where several events offer alcoholic drinks without many non-alcoholic alternatives. The joint resolution would also require the executive branch to issue a report to identify ways to combat “dangerous” drinking behaviors.

Senators also approved the founding of the GW Law Crypto Club to establish the new organization’s constitution.

SBA Sen. Linda Anael Kengne, a master’s of law student, resigned from the senate, leaving one vacancy on the senate.

The next senate meeting will be held on Nov. 16 at 9:15 p.m. in the Law Learning Center.

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