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SA Senate signs off on internal budget, disclosing spending records for the first time

Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor

Updated: Sep. 3, 2022 at 10:17 a.m.

The Student Association Senate unanimously approved its own operating budget for the academic year in its first meeting of the semester Monday, marking the first time the senate has publicly released the body’s spending.

SA Executive Vice President Yan Xu sponsored the Legislative Operational Budget Act, which allocates $12,750 for office supplies, food and drink and “program development activities” like meetings, town halls and other senate gatherings. The budget allots the senate $7,250 for hosting events, $500 for office supplies, $1,000 for travel and $4,000 for food.

Xu said this year’s operational budget is smaller than last year’s private operational budget, which clocked in at a total of $19,254.48.

Xu said this year’s travel funds can go to graduate student senators who live outside the standard Metrorail and bus system.

“Some graduate students either live far away from campus and have to drive all the way to campus to attend an SA meeting,” Xu said. “This is the senate taking its support to support its senators.”

Senators also unanimously passed the Graduate Seats Conversion Act, which converts a graduate nursing school senate seat into a graduate-at-large seat. The resolution states that the seat has not been filled after multiple rounds of vacancy applications that started last May.

The at-large seat will be open to graduate students from all schools at the University. The new seat is the only at-large seat in this year’s senate.

Juan Carlos Mora, the senate chief counsel, announced the formation of a new senate task force to address tentative updates to Title IX that the White House proposed in June, which include changes that would eliminate the requirement for live hearings and include protections for LGBTQ+ students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The task force will publish a final report at the end of the academic year.

The task force is open to undergraduate and graduate students and representatives from “stakeholder student organizations,” like Students Against Sexual Assault. The Senate has not yet selected members for the task force, and it will receive applications on a rolling basis.

“As students and stakeholders in our college community, it is within our power to make our campus a safer and more equitable place,” Mora said in an email.

Officials from GW’s Title IX office will provide further information on the new proposed guidelines and regulations at the next SA senate meeting.

Dean of Students Colette Coleman also spoke to senators, emphasizing the need to welcome and accommodate the freshman class. Coleman said the incoming freshmen class needs GW role models and that the SA is the perfect place to find them.

“Whatever your reason, whatever your inspiration, it brought you to the seat you’re in tonight and into the seat you will serve in through this academic school year,” Coleman said. “I want to encourage you to think about the ways that you can impact the student experience, not just for you and your classmates, but for all the students who will come behind you.”

The senate unanimously confirmed seven new executive nominees to serve in President Christian Zidouemba’s cabinet through the academic year after at least seven cabinet members, including the legislator general, the executive secretaries for dining services and undergraduate academic affairs and diversity, equity and inclusion resigned this July. Zidouemba replaced these four members and appointed executive secretaries for graduate academic affairs and alumni relations.

Andrew Harding, the newly confirmed legislator general, said his main priority is maintaining “political stability.” He said the attempt to remove Zidouemba this summer “should have never happened.”

“I will do everything in my power to ensure this body and University continues to move on,” he said.

The senate confirmed sophomore Neharika Rao as the executive secretary of diversity, equity and inclusion. Rao said her experience in high school student government and her deep passion for leadership will help her organize change and streamline dialogue between the student body and the SA.

“My first goal and my position is to create a safe environment for all students to feel as though their problems are going to end with us,” she said.

The next senate meeting will be held Monday, Sept. 12 at 8:30 p.m. in the Elliott School State Room.

Erika Filter contributed reporting. 

This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that the SA disbursed its yearly operating budget. The body allocated the funds. The Hatchet also incorrectly reported that undergraduates and graduates were eligible for the newly converted at-large seat. Only graduates are eligible for the at-large seat. We regret these errors.

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