SA Senate calls on University to allow absences on Election Day

Media Credit: File Photo by Raphael Kellner | Staff Photographer

SA Sen. Kai Simson, CPS-G, who sponsored the resolution, said students struggle to vote while taking classes, working and participating in extracurriculars, even though they may be more politically active than the average youth.

The Student Association Senate, in its annual meeting on the Mount Vernon Campus on Monday, unanimously approved a resolution calling on the University to make it easier for students to vote on Election Day.

The Election Day Voting Act recommends that faculty permit excused absences on Election Day, which falls on Tuesday, Nov. 8. The resolution urges professors against scheduling due dates for graded assignments or exams on Election Day.

SA Sen. Kai Simson, CPS-G, who sponsored the resolution, said despite being more politically active than the average youth, GW students struggle to vote while taking classes, working and participating in extracurriculars.

“By enacting the Election Day Voting Act, GW has a way to show its community that voting and the opportunity to vote is a priority,” he said.

The senate unanimously confirmed Keanu Rowe as the chief of staff of President Christian Zidouemba after the Student Court decided earlier this month that the senate unconstitutionally confirmed Rowe in May. The court found the confirmation was unconstitutional because the senate confirmed two people to the same position.

“Although my original confirmation was illegitimate in the eyes of law, I executed the responsibilities of the chief of staff position to the best of my ability,” he said.

The senate also unanimously confirmed Rebecca Aduclasse as the executive secretary for graduate student life, Adam Galland as the director of inventory and Aditcharan Thyagarajan and Cradler Volmar as assistant legislators general.

The senate failed to pass the Mount Vernon Meeting Act, which would have removed the bylaw requiring the senate to hold at least one meeting on the Mount Vernon Campus each academic year. The resolution received 21 votes in support, five short of the 26 to reach the required two-thirds majority.

SA Sen. Simon Patmore-Zarcone, Law-G, who sponsored the resolution, said the senate’s requirement to meet on the Vern each year is unnecessary and burdensome. He said now that senate meetings are live-streamed, freshmen can easily attend regardless of where the meeting is held, while graduate students struggle to access the Vern.

“In particular, graduate students such as myself are adversely affected,” he said. “Tonight, if I were to take public transit home, it would likely take almost two hours to get back.”

Only eight senators attended the meeting in person, with the rest attending virtually or voting by proxy. Patmore-Zarcone said no Vern residents attended the meeting, and attendance was limited to SA members, University officials and Hatchet reporters.

Five senators opposed the resolution. SA Sen. Carille Walcott, GWSB-G, said the SA should ignore the inconvenience of meeting on the Vern annually because it only occurs once per year.

“Who knows next year if you have a bigger attendance,” she said.

Zidouemba said students have submitted more than 1,000 responses to a survey seeking input on distributing Plan B vending machines on campus, which could distribute the emergency contraceptive. Zidouemba announced at the beginning of the year a plan to put vending machines for contraceptives on campus after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, following a similar move at Northeastern University.

“The future of this initiative is bright,” Zidouemba said. “And I’m hopeful for what it can be for women across our University.”

SA Vice President Yan Xu said the SA has reserved spaces in the University Student Center for the career fair that will take place during the spring semester.

Senate Chairperson Pro Tempore Demetrius Apostolis said the fair will happen over three days in February on the third floor of the University Student Center.

He also said the Governing Documents Review Committee, which the senate created this summer following an attempt to remove Zidouemba from office, has looked over sections of the SA Constitution having to do with the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Apostolis said the committee will re-draft parts of the constitution, which it will complete some time in February.

The next Senate meeting will be held Nov. 7 at 8:30 p.m. in the Elliott School State Room.

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