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The GW Hatchet

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SA leaders rally support for student health referendum

File Photo by Camille Sheets | Hatchet Photographer
File Photo by Camille Sheets | Hatchet Photographer

The Student Association will spend the next two weeks drumming up support for its biggest goal of the year – relocating GW’s off-campus counseling center and health center – before it faces a campus-wide vote.

Though administrators have warned about the significant costs of moving the centers, Student Association president Julia Susuni said student buy-in would give the SA more force behind their ambitions. Susuni said she will spend the rest of the year trying to negotiate with top administrators, asking for the cash and space to make the move happen.

“This is an issue that has sparked and will continue to spark conversation around campus and participation in the dialogue, because it’s something students genuinely care about,” Susuni said.

Both Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center are located on K Street, about six blocks from Thurston Hall, GW’s largest freshman residence hall.

Students will vote on the question: “Do you support moving Student Health Service and the University Counseling Center into a centralized location on the Foggy Bottom campus?”

To pitch the idea to students, Susuni said she will go on a lightning tour of dozens of student organization meetings before the vote Nov. 13 and 14.

“This is happening. We are doing this,” she said. “Not having space is an issue we have now. When the University allocates space in the future, student health should be a priority.”

Senior Associate Dean of Students Mark Levine told The Hatchet earlier this month that the move was not feasible now because GW could not afford it, and he also did not know another space on campus where both centers could fit. He showed support for the idea in a Hatchet op-ed this week.

Top officials, including Provost Steven Lerman, have called mental health services a top priority.

Senior Samantha Herman, co-chair of the Health and Wellness Task Force, added that the referendum will put more weight behind the students’ effort and called it “an opportunity to show this is an issue that students really care about it.”

Susuni said she wants to rally more voters than last years’ referendum on a student fee hike, which drew votes from about 16 percent of students.

She said the referendum will divert her attention from her other campaign goals, such as lobbying Trader Joe’s to accept GWorld payments.

“The referendum is taking up a lot of time right now,” she said.

This post was updated Oct. 31, 2013 at 9:14 p.m. to reflect the following:

Correction appended
The Hatchet misidentified the address of Student Health Service and misreported that students would vote on two separate questions in the referendum instead of one. We regret the errors.

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