A Student Association senator is staging a run for the student government’s top post.
Sophomore Sen. Rami Hanash Jr., GWSB-U, announced his campaign for SA president Tuesday and said if elected, he will work to rename the SA, improve the transparency of University funding and SA allocations for student organizations and ramp up graduate student engagement. Hanash will take on junior and former SA senior policy adviser Edy Koenigs, who announced her campaign earlier this month on a platform focused on preventing sexual assault on campus and mandating diversity training for professors.
Hanash has served on the SA since his freshman year when he acted as the assistant secretary of athletics under former SA President Brandon Hill before running for GWSB senator last spring. During his time in the senate, Hanash has been vice chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Assembly, the Governing Documents Review Committee and the Undergraduate Student Life Committee.
He said he has accumulated leadership experience managing teams and planning events through the SA and serving in leadership roles for campus-wide programs, like GW Palooza and the GW Career Exploration EXPO.
“During my time in the SA, I’ve seen its great successes, and I’ve also seen some pretty public failures,” Hanash said. “I’d love to push the SA in the right direction for the future and leave something better off than how I found it.”
Hanash said his name-based slogan, Running Around Making Improvements, reflects his intention to be available for students to voice their concerns.
“I think that I am the right candidate because I have both the proven resume as well as the aspirations and the time commitment to be the president,” he said.
Hanash said if elected, he plans to write an executive order renaming the SA to the Student Government Association after receiving feedback from students who said the student organization’s current name could be misconstrued as an acronym for sexual assault. He said changing the name of the SA would allow it to move forward with a “renewed relationship with the student body.”
“Honestly, it shouldn’t be that big of an issue with how easy it is to fix it,” he said.
He said students could submit potential new logos incorporating the SGA branding to the SA over the summer. The SA approved a new logo last year featuring the hippo and the buff and blue colors.
Hanash said he hopes to increase outreach to graduate students regarding campus-wide events to connect them with undergraduate students after hearing graduate students report feelings of isolation at GW. Graduate students make up 56 percent of the University population, according to the enrollment dashboard.
Hanash, like Koenigs, said he also plans to meet with Campus Recreation officials about extending the hours of the Lerner Health and Wellness Center to midnight.
As another one of his major platform points, he said the SA will push to add GWorld to Apple Pay.
“We have the technology to do so,” he said. “We just haven’t done it yet.”
Hanash said he plans to work with the Board of Trustees to disclose the University’s financial information after the SA Senate passed legislation he sponsored earlier this month calling on GW to disclose which companies donate more than $50,000 to the University.
“While it may not be my direct oversight, it is still a huge responsibility of the SA,” he said.
He said he also hopes to be more transparent about how the SA funds student organizations after continuing to streamline the senate’s allocations process with the SA’s next vice president. The senate revised its bylaws last month to change the allocations process to a category-based system instead of a line item system, and senators mandated that the Finance Committee publicly post its minutes within 48 hours of its meetings.
“In that process, extensive reviews and roundtables are really helping because we have more than just one person making the financial decisions, as well as a lot of transparency for student org leaders to come see how financing works,” he said.
Hanash said he wants the SA to allocate funding to student organizations through a fair process after the SA’s former Finance Committee Chair Ian Ching resigned in November in light of allegations of negligence and bias by the Office of Senate Legal Counsel.
Hanash said he hopes to guide his administration away from previous controversies in the SA, including Ching’s resignation and the executive cabinet’s attempt to remove SA President Christian Zidouemba from office last summer. Hanash said he and other members of the SA Senate’s Governing Documents Review Committee reworded Article 15 of the SA constitution, which allows the executive cabinet to temporarily remove the president, to clarify the removal as “temporary” and toss out the chief of staff’s role in the voting process.
He said as assistant secretary for athletics last year, he met with the SA’s Student Life Committee weekly and worked with all sports teams ranging from club sports like spikeball to varsity programs like men’s basketball.
”We’ve met with a lot of teams on the Vern, and they have been trying to get George’s Army to come to the Vern,” Hanash said. “So we’ve been thinking of ways to get George’s Army up there and stuff like that.”
Hanash said his campaign will have a significant social media presence and might host some small in-person events for students to get to know him as a candidate. He said his main goal is to continue meeting people and making connections.
“I feel that it’s really, really important to advocate for everybody,” Hanash said.
This article appeared in the March 23, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.