SA Senate calls for officials to provide graduate student housing

Media Credit: Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

SA Sen. Philippa Balshaw, CCAS-G, spoke at Monday's meeting in favor of the Graduate Housing (Goes International) Act, which she co-sponsored.

The Student Association Senate voted to urge officials to provide graduate-only housing to students during a meeting Monday.

Senators unanimously passed the legislation, calling on officials to provide all graduate students with “permanent and secure” residence halls and requests increased housing options, support networks and mediation resources for graduates, especially those who are international students, trying to secure off-campus housing. Senators also approved $100,000 in unused student organization funding, which the SA will reallocate to student organizations as co-sponsorships for durable goods, which include long-term licenses and sports equipment for students organizations to spend in the remainder of the fiscal year.

SA Sen. Philippa Balshaw, CCAS-G, who co-sponsored the resolution, said although graduate students make up 56 percent of GW’s student population, they are not offered the same housing opportunities as undergraduate students, who are guaranteed campus housing.

The resolution aims to expand graduate housing options on campus for international students, who she said often struggle to find someone to cosign on their rental leases while looking for off campus housing without any available residence hall options. She said international students may need to submit full payment upfront, unlike their peers at GW, who face less stringent domestic cosigning requirements.

The resolution recommends that when the Aston re-opens, the building should be designated as graduate-only housing. The Aston, which used to be a graduate student apartment complex, was converted to house third and fourth year students as Thurston Hall was approved to undergo renovations in 2019.

“International students can’t afford this opportunity,” she said. “We not only deserve graduate student housing in the Aston but also deserve more opportunities to suit individual needs and accommodate the number of graduates.”

SA Sen. Cody Ingraham, Law-G, who co-sponsored the resolution, said the Aston currently contains 120 double units designated for undergraduate students. He said even when the Aston was used for graduate housing, this number of graduate housing units was “far less” than the number of options at GW’s peer schools.

The senate also unanimously passed the Year-End Capital Investment Act, which uses previously distributed student organizations’ “unspent funds” from the SA to reallocate to student organizations for durable goods like sports equipment that will last a year or more. SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U, who sponsored the bill, said funding for this bill came from the SA reclamation process, where the SA takes any surplus funds that student organizations requested in their fall semester budgets but did not spend during the academic year.

“Fall semester, there were leftover funds that student organizations have to use and based on every previous year’s data, the University can reasonably authorize that this will be still left over,” Xu said.

Earlier this month, the SA designated about $200,000 for the University-wide Events Fund next year that will go toward events with an expected attendance of at least 350 students and heritage celebration programs, like Black Heritage Celebration and South Asian Society events. The events fund is separate from the general allocations fund, according to the Code of Financial Policies, an update and expansion of current SA finance bylaws, earlier this month.

The senate also unanimously passed the Code of Academic Integrity Revisions, which revises the definition of academic integrity, clarifying how University sanctions can differ based on whether students intended to violate GW policy. Christy Anthony, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, said the definitions are written with the intention of teaching students what constitutes as plagiarism.

“We see it as an obligation of the University and of faculty to really teach what we mean when we talk about plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity violations,” she said.

The next senate meeting will be held April 11 at 8:30 p.m. in the University Student Center’s Continental Ballroom.

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