Student Association Senate Chairperson Pro Tempore Demetrius Apostolis, CCAS-U, became the first to announce a campaign for SA vice president Wednesday.
Apostolis, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice and history, said if elected, he plans to host regular meetings between SA leadership, students and administrators to give students an opportunity to provide input on University policies, require senators to attend student organization meetings and create a mentorship program between graduate and undergraduate students. During his time on the senate, Apostolis helped launch the Career Exploration EXPO in February and filled all senate vacancies last fall for the first time since October 2017.
He said he was inspired to run for vice president to continue building on the change the SA made this term, like the reinstitution of the career fair, which was paused during the pandemic. He said as vice president, he would pledge to attend three student organization meetings per week, and he would invite student organizations to present recent accomplishments at SA meetings to promote a sense of community.
“Our vice president and president should have the doors open, ready to talk to students,” he said.
As senate chairperson pro tempore, Apostolis is the third-highest ranking member in the SA after only the president and vice president, and he oversees filling senate vacancies and coordinating proxy votes for senators. Apostolis served as acting vice president for one week last summer while current SA Vice President Yan Xu took a medical leave of absence. During that time, Apostolis chaired the emergency senate session following an attempt to remove SA President Christian Zidouemba.
Apostolis said he hopes to host two to three meetings between students, the SA president and vice president and administrators two to three times per semester so students can deliver feedback on policies like tuition increases, curriculum requirements and University spending. The senate passed the Funding Transparency Act earlier this month, which calls on the University to disclose which companies donate more than $50,000 to the University.
“Students shouldn’t have to fight for things like financial transparency when it’s us who are paying for the school,” he said.
He said after meeting with members of academic advising teams across schools, he hopes to institute a program where graduate students can serve as academic advisers for undergraduate students.
“Graduate students normally come from other universities and other skill sets, and they’re able to help with that,” he said.
Apostolis said he plans to install a green screen in the SA office so student organizations could film videos.
He said he plans to create a sign-up sheet allowing student organizations to present upcoming events and recent accomplishments at SA meetings. Any non-senator, including student organizations, are currently permitted to go before the senate and address any concerns or accomplishments during the public comment period of each meeting, according to the SA’s constitution.
“If elected as vice president, my door will always be open to be there for students because I think that that’s essential,” he said.
He said he hopes to create a shared messaging platform between the legislative and executive branches and host social events to promote connections between the two branches.
Apostolis said while still acting as a senator, he plans to propose a bill requiring senators to attend at least three student organization meetings per semester. Apostolis has attended every full senate meeting, according to available minutes.
He said regardless of whether he is elected, he plans to create an orientation guidance document for incoming SA senators to introduce them to senate policies.
“Even if not elected, I’m not going to stop working hard to help the students,” he said.
Apostolis said as vice president, he would plan to meet with each SA senator at least once to check in on their goals and ongoing work. He said he plans to use Trello, a project management software, to monitor senators’ legislative projects.
He said after he was accepted to GW during his senior year of high school, he met former SA Vice President Kate Carpenter who inspired him to get involved in the SA after he met her at a GW-sponsored trivia event for newly admitted students.
“She was my inspiration,” he said. “She was really outgoing, and I wanted to be Kate Carpenter.”
Earlier this year, Apostolis said he partnered with the SA’s Assistant Secretary of Dining Joshua Stone to establish a dining focus group that communicates with the SA’s executive branch and dining vendors, recommending expanded allergy-friendly options, cooking classes and clearer labels. Next year, Apostolis wants to add allergy options and grocery stores on GWorld to the University’s meal plan.
He said he hopes to advertise Faculty Senate meetings to students so they can familiarize themselves with administrators.
He also hopes to interview applicants for senate staff positions twice to give interested students opportunities to talk about their passions.
“I want us to be able to not be scared to talk to people,” he said.
Apostolis said he plans to host tabling events and a karaoke night leading up to the election on April 5 and 6.
“I’m here for students,” he said. “Anything they need, I will make time.”
This article appeared in the March 23, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.