The chair of the Student Association Senate’s finance committee launched his candidacy for SA vice president Monday, promising to advocate for increased student organization funding if elected.
SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U, said a lack of funding is one of the top issues students face, citing how student organizations have struggled to rent out spaces for their events and pay for their respective financial situations. He said he will use the relationships he formed with officials during his time as finance committee chair to advocate for increased funding, including a more cost-effective rental process for campus spaces like Lisner and Jack Morton auditoriums.
Xu said arts and student organizations have struggled attaining space for performances or events as GW has granted priority to “third-party organizations.” He said he will work with Events and Venues officials to create an event fee calculator for student organizations to determine the cost of space rentals that depend on factors like time, place, equipment and type of event.
“I have an incredible amount of energy invested into my work in the Student Association,” Xu said in an interview. “I actually see it as a near full-time job, and I’m devoted to improving student experience, and I want to do my part to make students feel fulfilled.”
He said he plans to connect students with officials through avenues like Board of Trustees meetings to increase efficiency and include them in the University’s decision-making process to prevent backlash from students against administrators.
Xu is the first student to announce his campaign for SA vice president. SA Sen. Dasia Bandy, ESIA-U, was the first to announce her campaign for the SA presidency last Monday.
Xu, who served as an undergraduate at-large senator during his freshman year before heading the finance committee, said his two years of experience on the SA have prepared him to serve as vice president. As finance committee chair, he has overseen the SA’s process to allocate about $1.5 million to student organizations, which he said has allowed him to develop “intimate” relationships with student leaders and officials.
Xu created a Code of Financial Policies and guidelines for student organizations after sponsoring three pieces of legislation to reform the SA’s finance bylaws with new measures, like a streamlined process for the senate to allocate funding to student organizations. The legislation added new restrictions that limited student organizations’ funding and restructured the SA’s internal spending process through new protocols, like requiring each SA branch to submit an itemized budget request for spending purposes.
The financial code condenses the reforms outlined in the bills, acting as a separate document that replaces the bylaws.
The SA Office of the Legislator General filed a complaint with the Student Court last month to overturn sections of legislation that Xu introduced, which widened the finance committee’s authority to regulate student organization financial activities. But the senate passed the Financial Reform Act last week – which Xu also sponsored – a bill that could render the pending court case moot.
“I’m personally very proud that as finance chair, I’m able to help organizations with their unexpected financial situations, and I’ve brought funding to those organizations that were historically excluded from the financial process, for example, particularly our performance organizations,” Xu said.
He said as vice president, he will encourage more collaboration among the three branches in the SA in hopes of fostering a “healthy and collaborative” environment and mitigating internal divides in the senate. He said he wants senators to feel comfortable freely expressing their views under his leadership as vice president, which oversees the senate.
Xu said ensuring that students know that the SA exists to advocate for them will be one of the biggest challenges his campaign will confront. He said through virtual and in-person campaigning, he hopes to connect with “disaffected” students to provide support for the student body.
“If people don’t know we, as I say, exist, or represent them, then they don’t vote and they do not participate and their voice is left out,” Xu said. “Change is made without them. In this election, elections in the future, I hope it should mean something for students.”