The chair of the Student Association Senate’s diversity and inclusion assembly became the first to announce a bid for SA president Monday.
SA Sen. Dasia Bandy, ESIA-U, said if elected in next month’s elections, she plans to ramp up inclusion initiatives and increase accessibility of technology and health resources, like GWireless and Counseling and Psychological Services. Bandy, a sophomore, said she will host campus events, like meet and greets and a coloring social with her campaign team, to engage with students during the campaign season.
“You can’t represent a community if you’re not a member and truly understand the good things and the bad things in the community,” Bandy said in an interview. “And so I think my experience as a senator and on these various roles has prepared me for office because I understand the workings internally of the Student Association but also have this optimistic view of how we can improve some of the concerns.”
The senate approved a bill establishing the diversity and inclusion assembly in 2018 to bring together a group of multicultural student leaders and SA senators to voice concerns about campus-wide diversity issues. Eleven SA senators currently serve on this committee to “create strategic plans to ensure representation and foster multi-cultural community outreach,” according to the SA website.
If elected, Bandy said she would be the first Black woman to serve as SA president at GW.
As part of her platform’s inclusivity initiative, Bandy said she will expand the bias reporting system housed under the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement to include unfair grading practices and insufficient SA finance allocations. She said she will also push administrators to require bias testing for students and new faculty and staff, including the GW Police Department.
Bandy said she will push officials to include more students in their decision-making processes, and the SA president should invite more students of different identities to their monthly meetings with the University president.
She said GW should appoint more students from multicultural and interfaith student organizations to the Diversity Program Review Team – a group of faculty members and students who will oversee a campus-wide diversity, equity and inclusion program review starting this semester. The team, which includes four students, will conduct a campus climate survey this spring and develop an action plan next year for administrators to address diversity concerns on campus.
“These are just different student orgs and different departments on campus that I think should have their voices elevated to those that have more access for change to be made directly on campus,” she said.
Bandy said she will ask officials to increase laundry credits by $30 each semester as part of her plans to enhance the student experience. She said a larger balance than the current $59.50 semesterly allowance, which allows for 34 wash and dry cycles per semester, will accommodate students with larger-sized clothing and those who also want to wash linens because they take up more space in the washer and lead to more loads.
She said as president, she will create a dining plan feedback form for officials to hear students’ concerns regarding allergies or food quality under the “all-you-can-eat” dining plan that GW will start implementing this fall with three new dining halls. She said she will push for bi-weekly cross-contamination checks to ensure students with allergies feel safe to eat in the dining halls.
As of Sunday, nearly 1,000 students have signed a petition calling for officials to renew GW’s current dining plan, which is completely comprised of GWorld funding for students to spend at local vendors. Students who signed the petition criticizing the meal plan said they are concerned about the high costs of the new dining system and fewer meal options.
“We recognize and we know that we’re going to undergo a new dining process next year, and we cannot go back from that,” Bandy said. “So the best thing that we can do is to hold the process accountable. So that includes a student feedback form that is reliable, accessible and transparent.”
She said she will collaborate with officials to ensure that GW’s technology services, like GWireless and the SafeRide app, are accessible and easy to manage for students. She said students have faced issues taking remote exams with WiFi outages and waiting for SafeRides when drivers’ arrival times stretch longer than expected.
Bandy said she will advocate to expand mental health services, like CAPS and GW Listens, by diversifying employees in the CAPS office who can relate to different students’ experiences. She said professors should be required to allow students to take two excused absences for mental health reasons so they do not feel pressured to attend class when they are not feeling well.
“The key purpose of GW is to be a safe academic environment, and you can’t have that if your mental health and your emotional well-being isn’t your first priority as well,” Bandy said.
Bandy said her roles as an SA senator and as a member of multiple student organizations – like DREAMS, which focuses on community service in Black communities – have prepared her to lead the SA because she has learned how to manage her time and engage with students directly. She said she regularly chats with her classmates to hear their concerns about GW and how the SA could work to address those issues.
She said SA members have faced internal conflicts within the body since 2018, and she hopes a new group of elected members will reduce the SA’s time commitment, like the length of senate meetings, to change that culture. She said she will appoint a third-party group to oversee any internal conflicts in the SA to reduce the amount of time spent on each conflict.
“What would really help with internal affairs is reducing the amount of time that it requires to be a student representative,” Bandy said. “I think it’s really hard to be a student representative when you’re not a part of the student body and you’re continuously in this space where you have to be, quote unquote, ‘a representative.’”
She said her campaign team will launch a website and a texting hotline for the election season to increase engagement with voters. She said she or a member of her campaign team will respond to students who text the number, which will increase accessibility for students who may not attend in-person campaign events.
“If we don’t get the outcome that we would like, which is serving as the Student Association president, we plan on still working with the administration to get these ideas through,” she said. “So I want to let students know that if you don’t necessarily support me, that’s ok, but I still support you.”