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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Column: Let’s be real about the SA

As we close out another term, it’s time to realistically assess how the SA is serving students. When I ask students on campus, “What has the Student Association done for you?” each student normally responds with a sarcastic comment, or a profanity-laced sarcastic comment. During his term, Omar Woodard has made major strides in forging a good working relationship with the administration. This was most recently evident in the University’s allocation of over $2 million for residence hall improvements as a result of Woodard’s lobbying. But despite Woodard’s gains, the SA’s reputation as an organization is rightfully awful because of its large-scale and long-standing failure to effectively represent and serve GW’s student body.

For years, SA candidates have faced the same question: How can we make the SA more effective and restore students’ faith in this form of representation? Each year, a candidate promises to do this through “reform,” both within the SA and outside in the University’s administration, but as we have seen over the years, this is not the easy answer. The idea of reforming the SA’s practices is a good one, but is it really the answer to all that ails the SA? Can we reasonably expect “reform” to fix years of inefficient and ineffective representation? While “reform” may be a generally good principle, it is only a small piece of what the SA needs to regain its effectiveness.

There is no easy answer that will solve all of the SA’s problems, but there is one important element that must be addressed before the SA can solve any of its problems. The SA needs to refocus on the real reason it exists: to serve and represent students. In the past year, we have seen too much infighting between senators and needless controversy in The Hatchet. It’s as if much of the SA Senate is more focused on their own political ambitions than the needs of GW’s student body. We need a Student Association that spends all of its time and effort developing better ways to serve students and advocating for students’ concerns on the University’s highest levels.

The SA can serve students in their everyday lives in the form of academic advising help, graduate school mentoring programs, and by assuring that students get the best customer service in the University’s offices. Even the SA offices should undergo a transformation into a place that offers free student services where students actually feel comfortable stopping by. If the SA focuses on providing students with real and useful services, students will begin to value the SA’s contribution to the campus. Showing students that the SA can have a positive and substantial impact is the only way that students will feel that the SA actually represents them.

In a sense, the new SA senators and president must rebuild the trust between the SA and the students. The SA needs the support of the students it represents and this can only happen with students’ trust. When the SA decides to fight for a real student union, we will need the students to stand with us. When the SA defends on-campus Greek-letter life, we will need the students to stand with us. The possibilities are endless when the SA and the students can finally stop fighting SA politics, and start fighting the University’s problems.

I want a Student Association that students can trust because it achieves real results. I want a Student Association that puts politics aside to serve students the right way. I believe that this Student Association is possible and I believe that I can make it happen.

-The writer, a junior majoring in business, is a Student Association senator and SA presidential candidate.

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