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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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President: SJ Matthews

Junior SJ Matthews is running for Student Association president.

Year: Junior
Hometown: Chatham, N.J.
Major: Classical studies and history
Student organizations/activities: Residence Hall Association, women’s rugby team, GW STAR, Kappa Alpha Theta, GW Catholics
Previous SA experience: None
Favorite GWorld Spot: GW Delicatessen
Favorite off-campus spot: Kotobuki
Dream job: Any job where I can help people. Service, social work.
Fun fact: I have a tattoo of a mustache on my hand.
Favorite place in the world: Seagirt, N.J.
Favorite movie: “Twister”
Role model: Comedian Kate McKinnon

In the Residence Hall Association, SJ Matthews prioritizes teamwork.

As the president of the organization, Matthews works with teams of hall council members and administrators to push forward projects to improve residential living. She said her people skills have allowed her to roll out collaborative initiatives this year, like granting freshmen tap access to all first-year residence halls and offering cooking classes to the group.

Now, she wants to bring that skillset to the Student Association’s top post.

“I like building people up and bringing them together because I think when we’re all working together, we can accomplish infinitely more than we can separately,” she said.

She said her experience as RHA president has prepared her to assume the role of SA president because she fostered relationships with administrators like Seth Weinshel, the assistant dean of housing and financial services, and John Ralls, the director of communications and outreach for the Division of Operations. Her talks with those administrators allowed the RHA to buy pots and pans for students in shared residence hall kitchens, she said.

“I’ve been really fortunate in my role as RHA president to build all these great relationships with administrators which I think would really easily translate to the SA,” she said.

Matthews’ platform focuses on expanding initiatives she advocated for as RHA president, like tap access in every residence hall and adding furniture in residence hall lounges. Dean of the Student Experience Cissy Petty proposed adding more furniture in residence hall spaces after visiting different halls last semester.

“I want to make sure that students feel that they can find that community, and I want to be able to usher in a new era of GW where we actually support our students,” she said.

But Matthews said she was driven to launch a campaign for the SA’s top post after hearing students’ struggles in their everyday lives on campus. She heard earlier this semester that more than 60 students allegedly did not receive their financial aid packages on time this semester, preventing them from registering for classes.

She said students should be able to focus on their academics without worrying about processing financial aid documents.

“The University should first and foremost always be working to support its students, and in the case of the incident with the financial aid office, it failed to do that,” she said.

Matthews said she has hosted listening sessions in residence halls and on the Mount Vernon Campus throughout her campaign to hear out students ahead of the election. She planned to discuss and update her platform throughout the month as she spoke with students.

“I feel like it’s on us as student leaders to make sure we are as accessible and transparent as possible,” she said. “I want to work to make sure students know exactly what’s happening in the SA at all times and they feel empowered to speak up when they see something wrong.”

Matthews said that if elected, she hopes to scrap some “redundant” general education requirements in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. She said her conversations with students and faculty have shown that professors enjoy teaching general education classes, but they sometimes face difficulties motivating students who only sign up to check a box.

“There are just too many core requirements,” she said. “It makes it harder to graduate, it makes it harder to take classes you’re actually interested in.”

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