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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Sydney Nelson for SA executive vice president

This year, both executive vice presidential candidates were passionate and educated about their platform points. Both make strong EVP candidates, but one was the standout.

Sydney Nelson should be your vote for EVP. When we first looked at Nelson’s platform, we noticed it was shorter than most EVP candidate platforms – and that made us a bit uneasy. But each point she included in the platform was backed up with substantial research, discussed with an administrator and stemmed from work she’s already done on campus. At no point during our hearing did Nelson talk around a question – she was able to answer each one based on her research and experience. Her preparedness was impressive, and she proved that when it comes to platform points, quality beats quantity.

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Nelson had a strong understanding of GW’s administrative structure and who she would need to work with to make her bigger goals – like making professors add a cost sticker to their classes on the course schedule – happen. In addressing how she can garner support for her platform points on diversity, like hiring diverse faculty members and training students to teach student organizations about different identities, she referred to incoming University President Thomas LeBlanc’s accomplishment of increasing diversity at the University of Miami. When asked about why she believed another attempt at securing a discounted opt-in student WMATA pass would be successful this year, she pointed to American University’s success with the program and WMATA’s willingness to bring the program to GW. And she said she’s talked to officials about the WMATA plan who said they would be more likely to sign off on the plan if WMATA added disability access to the program.

An EVP must have small enough goals that are actionable and impactful, while also being able to lead the SA senate. Even though neither candidate’s platform mentioned how they would work with the senate, in our hearing, Nelson delved into her plans to make senators more accountable to the schools they represent. For example, she intends for Columbian College of Arts and Sciences senators to lobby officials for a peer advising system and to get student feedback on the current POD system.

Nelson’s experience with the Faculty Senate on the group’s Joint Committee of Faculty and Students will enable her to get some of her bigger ticket items through, like the price tags for classes. Based on her established relationships with Faculty Senate members, coupled with her intent to follow current EVP Thomas Falcigno’s approach to lobbying the senate, we believe Nelson will succeed in reaching her academics-related goals.

While Peak Sen Chua’s platform was a compilation of students’ daily issues, he wasn’t as prepared to answer questions, nor was he always able to point out research or administrative feedback in the way Nelson was.

But like Nelson, Chua brought his own ideas and experiences to the table. He was particularly interested in creating relationships with students outside the SA, and with his friendly demeanor, we expect he would be able to easily do that. In his endorsement hearing, Chua shared anecdotes from friends and students that inspired his platform points. Although his anecdotes made for good stories and showed his empathy, they didn’t always provide plans for reaching the goals in his platform.

Chua realized the weight of being the first international student EVP and how he can use his voice to advocate for a population that may feel overlooked. His plan to create a directory of international students from different countries is doable and it showed that he understood the needs of the international student community. And we hope some of his platform points, like making websites disability-accessible and reducing missed appointment fees at the Colonial Health Center, will be taken on by Nelson, should she win.

But Chua’s platform seemed to use buzzwords students like to hear without substantial policies to back the points up. He recognized that sexual assault is a campus issue, but his ideas for how to prevent it – which focus primarily on improving the GW PAL app – weren’t anything new. And while we think his personal opinion on divestment is admirable, Chua wasn’t able to explain how he’d lobby officials or get the University to divest from fossil fuels. Nelson also included divestment on her platform. Her goal was to create a task force to see how possible divestment is, while Chua was set on demanding that administrators divest. His ideas are lofty, and lofty ideas are OK when there are smaller, actionable goals mixed in. But we felt Chua didn’t have that balance.

Nelson’s platform certainly wasn’t perfect either. She added several new points to her platform three weeks after she launched her campaign, which include expanding hours for Mental Health Services and streamlining the process for students to change their preferred names and gender pronouns online. These are good ideas, but we have to wonder why they weren’t on her platform earlier. We appreciated that she was willing to change her platform after discussing ideas with students, but her timing came off as a last-minute way to address two major campus issues.

After hearing both candidates, Nelson’s preparedness and actionable platform make her the superior choice. The amount of research and outreach she has done before adding every point to her platform is impressive. She showed us that there is a reason why she included the points she did and that they are all feasible. Both Chua and Nelson would make competent EVPs, but we believe Nelson will be able to effectively lobby for transportation affordability, alert students to costs during course registration and empower senators to work for all students.

Vote for Nelson for SA executive vice president Wednesday or Thursday.

Recordings of the endorsement hearings are available here for Sydney Nelson and Peak Sen Chua.

The editorial board is composed of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s piece was written by opinions editor Melissa Holzberg and contributing opinions editor Irene Ly, based on discussions with managing director Eva Palmer, homepage editor Tyler Loveless, contributing sports editor Matt Cullen and copy editor Melissa Schapiro.

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