The treasurer of the Student Association is vying for the SA’s vice presidency as the second candidate to jump into the race.
Arya Thakur, a sophomore majoring in international affairs and finance, announced his campaign Thursday and plans to build off of his nearly six-month stint as treasurer, where he manages the executive branch’s $29,500 budget. If elected, he said he will hold the SA to a higher level of “financial honesty” to students – a priority that follows former SA Finance Committee Chair Ian Ching’s alleged mismanagement of SA funds last fall, which led up to his resignation from the body.
Thakur joined the SA in September as director of inventory, where he got his first experience managing finances while helping the SA treasurer verify durable goods purchased with SA funds. The senate confirmed Thakur as treasurer in early October.
Thakur said if elected, he will make the SA’s executive branch and senate committee meetings public to all members of the student body, which would improve transparency. He said he plans to heed calls from student organizations to explain how the SA’s bylaws decide how to allocate funds between student organizations.
“We don’t even get to see what’s happening internally,” Thakur said. “Let’s open those meetings, those Finance Committee meetings, to all members of the public. Let’s see what’s going on, and people will be much less disengaged with the SA.”
Thakur said he plans to increase the number of free counseling sessions students can receive from Counseling and Psychological Services, which currently stands at six. In January, GW partnered with telehealth company AcademicLiveCare to provide unlimited free virtual sessions for students. Yet Thakur said students are “sick of splitting their screens,” and the University should first accommodate in-person counseling requests.
He said he will also seek to build a Title IX task force with as many as 50 students composed of SA members, student leaders and Title IX staff to bring together a “diverse” set of student voices that have a “direct line of communication” to air their concerns to officials.
The University added staff positions and enhanced training measures to strengthen its response to Title IX cases in December 2021 after students voiced concerns months earlier about GW’s alleged mishandling of cases. The SA Senate formed a Title IX task force in late August made of SA senators, who will publish a report at the end of the academic year.
“This is a way for students to sit down, brainstorm and think with a clear direction and clear position, and then they will have the opportunity to develop their thoughts and speak with University officials,” Thakur said.
He said he plans to expand federal work-study jobs to allow for more peer academic advising, especially in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, and increased late-night front-desk shifts at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center to expand the building’s hours.
Thakur said he also plans to implement a scholarship fund for members of the LGBTQ+ community and other “underrepresented” communities, which alumni donors would directly fund. The University currently offers the Cisneros Scholars Award for Hispanic students and awards for students in the Elliott School of International Affairs from low-income and minority backgrounds through the Elliott Equity Fund.
“The world revolves around money, unfortunately, and we need to find ways to remedy that for people who are underrepresented,” he said.
Thakur said he also plans to open a discussion with the administration about bringing football back to GW, which the University discontinued after the 1966 season due to dwindling attendance and the lack of an on-campus stadium and other adequate football facilities. He said students want to take pride in their University.
“They want to leave GW not just being like, ‘Oh I’m a part of the alumni network, and GW is emailing me every once in a while to donate or something,’” Thakur said. “No, they want to have something that they can have pride in in the future and have a legacy. I think football is part of that for people, for students and alumni.”
Thakur said if elected, he will have a “friendly working relationship” with whomever is elected president and minimize discord within the governing body, citing the attempt to remove current SA President Christian Zidouemba from office in July.
“As elected student body leaders, we have to put ridiculous drama aside so it’s just moving forward and having an open line of communication,” he said. “The vice president’s door should be open, the president’s door should be open. You should be able to walk into each other’s room and be able to talk to each other.”
This article appeared in the March 27, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.