The Student Association will prioritize engaging graduate students and enhancing student health resources this spring, SA President Brandon Hill announced at a SA Senate meeting Monday.
Hill said that the SA executive branch will undertake 12 semester-long initiatives, including plans to establish a graduate student newsletter, organize pop-up STI testing through the Colonial Health Center and redesign the SA logo. He said the SA will work to create diversity and inclusion course requirements for University degrees and search for recreation space that students can use in place of the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, which will close for a portion of 2022.
Hill said he and Vice President Kate Carpenter welcomed interim University President Mark Wrighton to GW after he started his term earlier this month in place of former University President Thomas LeBlanc. He said Wrighton expressed “excitement” to work with the SA and an eagerness to help get GW “back on track” during his meetings with Hill and Carpenter last semester.
“We welcome Dr. Wrighton as our interim University president,” Hill said at the meeting. “Myself and Vice President Carpenter had the pleasure of meeting with him last semester in addition to a handful of conversations.”
Hill said he started attending GW as a part-time student this semester – a move that he said would allow him to dedicate more time to SA-related matters.
“It also gives me an opportunity to experience firsthand how our University treats its part-time students, which I think will open my eyes to a lot more we can do with our advocacy,” Hill said.
SA Sen. Derek Lo, CCAS-U, announced that the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will create a diversity, equity and inclusion council during the summer, which comes after “months of advocacy” from Lo and former SA Sen. Charlene Richards, CCAS-U. He said the council will consist of faculty, staff and students who will work with CCAS leadership on activities and initiatives for the council, which will accept self-nominations through Friday.
Senators also unanimously passed the Bylaws Part V Update Act, which added three sections to the SA’s finance bylaws – prohibited spending of SA and University funds, temporary funding policies and political activities.
SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U and the sponsor of the bill, said the spending bylaws will prohibit student organizations from requesting funds for social media advertising services, miscellaneous costs and food and drinks at internal student organization meetings. He said the finance committee can now reallocate funds from events that move online because of University decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of its newly created temporary funding policies.
“This section will allow the finance committee to put temporary funding policies in line with any unexpected changes,” Xu said. “So those items and unexpected changes are, for example, we change from online classes to in person or we change in-person class to hybrid.”
The University confirmed Wednesday that it would return to in-person learning next week after starting the spring semester with classes online. Officials recorded 748 total positive COVID-19 cases in the past week through Tuesday, with an 8.2 percent positivity rate from Jan. 4 to Jan. 11, according to GW’s COVID-19 dashboard.
Xu added that the new bylaws will prevent student organizations from spending SA funds on political organizations or donating funds to political candidates.
The senate also unanimously confirmed first-year law student Allison Finn as the secretary for graduate student life in the executive cabinet.
The next senate meeting will take place Jan. 24 at 8:30 p.m. in the University Student Center.