SA Senate votes to create dining reform special committee, swears in senators

Media Credit: Chuckie Copeland | Staff Photographer

Student Association Vice President Demetrius Apostolis swears in incoming SA senators during Monday's meeting.

Updated: Friday, May 5, 2023, at 7:46 p.m.

The Student Association Senate unanimously passed a resolution to create a special committee on dining reform in their first meeting of the term Monday.

The Dining Examination and Reform Act will create the Special Committee on Dining Reform, which will assess and address student’s concerns regarding health violations of the University’s dining halls. SA Sen. Dan Saleem, CCAS-U, who sponsored the bill, said he felt moved to create the new committee after seeing a “concerning” document from DC Health that showed “most” campus dining halls received a moderate to high contamination level.

A DC Health Food Establishment Inspection Report of The Eatery at Pelham Commons from March 8 states that officials observed mice droppings in dining hall’s dry storage area and opened food products that were not closed air-tight, increasing the risk of “possible contamination.” The report also flagged the dining hall’s improper use of dating and labeling, as well as improper temperature holdings of cold units and cold food items. A later report from March 20 showed dining officials corrected the violations.

Saleem said his friends who live on the Mount Vernon Campus and eat at Pelham complained to him about the dining hall conditions they observed. He said he was “afraid” his friends would not show up to class because they were in the hospital with food poisoning after eating in the dining halls.

Saleem said his proposal will address students’ concerns about the safety of dining hall food and give them the “justice” they deserve after his friends asked him what the SA was planning on doing to remedy the issue.

“This isn’t your run of the mill problems in the dining hall,” Saleem said. “This is mice droppings in the kitchen, open containers and storage fridges that don’t effectively prevent spoilage.”

University spokesperson Julia Metjian said officials have made all “necessary resolutions” after reviewing the violations and implementing a “corrective action plan” with leadership from Chartwells Higher Education, GW’s food service vendor. She said the University encourages students to provide feedback through GW Dining’s Student Advisory Panel.

“Dining leadership audits and inspects every dining hall daily to ensure GW students, staff and faculty have a safe and enjoyable dining experience,” Metjian said in an email Friday.

Senators elected SA Sen. Izzy Brophy, CCAS-U, the former dining service secretary, to serve as the chairperson of the special committee.

SA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis swore in incoming senators. Senators also elected Emma Hodgson, a freshman who tied with sophomore Elliot Morton for the ESIA-U senator seat during April SA elections, after conducting a private vote immediately following speeches from the two candidates on why they believe they should be elected during the meeting.

Hodgson said during her speech she will work to make GW safer for all students as a woman on campus, and extend Lerner Health and Wellness Center hours. Morton said he planned to create “fun” community events for students and ensure dining halls accommodate all dietary restrictions.

The senate also automatically confirmed Justin Zaslavsky as SMHS-G senator after his opponent did not attend the Monday meeting.

Newly elected SA President Arielle Geismar said the SA is powerful and incredibly important to GW because it serves as a “connector” and “distributor” for student resources. She said she is looking forward to sharing responsibility with senators this year and collaborating with “open communication.”

“I’m committed to having a very positive and friendly relationship between our executive team and the Senate this year, and I’m really looking forward to utilizing the power together,” Geismar said.

Newly elected SA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis said he will work this year to create a body of staff to support senators and their initiatives, and that the applications for the staff positions are “going well.” He said he will work with Geismar as a team to address students’ needs instead of operating as two separate branches of leadership.

“I’m super excited to work with President Geismar this year,” Apostolis said. “I’m really excited that we’ll be able to make a great team and have communication and really turn a new leaf in the Student Association.”

Senators unanimously confirmed Ishana Bandyopadhyay and Nathan Nguyen as chief of staff and senior director of the Legislative Budget Office, respectively.

The next SA Senate meeting will be held May 8 at 8:00 p.m. in 1957 E Street 211.

This post was updated to reflect the following:

The Hatchet updated this story to include a statement from University spokesperson Julia Metjian.

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