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

Zidouemba to launch run for reelection as JEC investigator recommends disqualification

File Photo by Maya Nair | Staff Photographer
If elected, Zidouemba said he will finish the final year of his master’s in management while serving as president.

Embarking on his fourth-consecutive run for Student Association President, Christian Zidouemba is the first sitting SA president in decades to run for a second full term with his entry onto the body’s election ballot Friday – but not without immediate controversy.

Zidouemba said he will launch his campaign Wednesday anchored on his plans to expand mental health resources for students and acquire federal, state and nonprofit funding to increase the size of the SA’s budget. But two days before the Joint Elections Commission released the SA’s election ballot, revealing that Zidouemba had filed for presidency, the JEC’s Chief Investigator Tyla Evans filed a recommendation Wednesday that he be disqualified from the election.

The recommendation states the JEC received allegations that Zidouemba gathered signatures for rival presidential candidates Keanu Rowe, his current chief of staff, Redzuan Bin Mohamed Raffe, a leader of GW Entrepreneurship Club, and senate candidate Aidan Spencer while was collecting signatures for his own reelection campaign. The hearing for the complaint is scheduled for Monday, according to the document.

Zidouemba is the first to announce a reelection campaign after a full term since 1987, per Hatchet archives.

Zidouemba, who has served for nearly a full term in office, said his proudest accomplishments feature the installation of a contraceptive vending machine in the University Student Center in January and his role on the Presidential Search Committee, which helped select incoming University President Ellen Granberg.

“I believe that a president is not someone who just sits in the office,” he said in an interview. “A president is someone who goes there trying to hear student concerns and trying to advocate for them.”

Zidouemba’s campaign announcement breaks from a statement he made at an SA Senate meeting earlier this month when he said he would not run for reelection. He said he changed his mind about running while speaking to students who encouraged him to mount a campaign.

“I was not hoping to run for reelection,” he said. “I was going to be done with the Student Association. And I think that I have done a great job overall, but the students that have approached me and told me that I’ve done a great job and things that we can still do and great things for the University are inspiring me to run for reelection.”

If elected, Zidouemba said he will finish the final year of his master’s in management while serving as president.

He said he plans to host an “End the Stigma” event in conjunction with Counseling and Psychological Services and the SA to raise awareness about mental health issues. He said he plans to facilitate monthly sessions for students in conjunction with CAPS, both remote and in person, to “create a space for students” to meet one another.

“Right now, we just came back from a pandemic,” he said. “Most people are feeling lonely, and they don’t even know where to find resources.”

He said he plans to host suicide-prevention training for students and restore GW Listens, a peer-run mental health hotline on campus. GW Listens was last active on its Instagram in September 2021. SA Vice President Yan Xu, who is not running for an SA position in next week’s election, said he was working to reinstall peer advisers in the GW Listens program in September.

Zidouemba said he plans to add 988, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number, and a phone number for GW Listens on the back of GWorld cards. He said he plans to increase funding for CAPS through GW Giving Day and other fundraising events.

GW Giving Day seeks donations for the entire University, not specific departments within the University.

He said he plans to work with University departments to identify external sources of funding – like federal and state grants and nonprofits – to increase the SA’s budget. He said he plans to speak with the Board of Trustees to coordinate fundraising events that can increase the SA’s funds without increasing student fees.

The SA’s budget totaled approximately $1.3 million for fiscal year 2022.

Zidouemba said he plans to rewrite the SA’s finance bylaws, creating a summary that is easier for student organizations to request funding. The SA overhauled its finance bylaws in spring 2022 and amended them last month, switching from a line item-based process to a category-based process.

He said he plans to create a financial aid advisory task force, with a website available in multiple languages, for students to provide input and recommendations on the University’s financial aid policies.

He said he would also work to expand existing connections with local employers to improve job opportunities for students looking for work after graduation.

He said he has started communicating with Charles Wurz and KC Costanzo of GW’s Transportation and Logistics Services office to expand the frequency of SafeRides. He said he plans to distribute Lyft subsidies to students for emergencies, like how the University distributed Lyft credits to students living on the Mount Vernon Campus last spring.

He said he also plans to send a bill to the senate next week to survey students on-campus safety.

Zidouemba said he will work with incoming University President Ellen Granberg to install napping stations for students on campus to take breaks between studying.

He added that he hopes to increase collaboration between the SA and Program Board to host events like Spring Fling to improve University culture. Zidouemba said he has a “connection” that can bring hip-hop superstar Drake to perform on campus, but he declined to comment on the connection further.

“My promise to students is that if I get reelected, I will ensure that Drake comes to our campus,” he said.

Zidouemba said he will forego typical campaign events as he runs for reelection, instead continuing his normal work as president and meeting with students throughout the campaign season.

“I will keep doing my job as I’ve been doing,” he said. “It’s not just about a campaign but being able to meet students and see what’s impacted their lives.”

Eóighan Noonan contributed reporting.

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About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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