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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Arielle Geismar for SA president

Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor
Geismar’s less flashy ideas, like installing more outlets in large lecture halls, would better students’ experience at the University.

From an attempt to remove Student Association President Christian Zidouemba from office to election delays and Student Court lawsuits, it’s been quite the year for the SA. The SA is at a low point, and the five candidates running for SA president are looking to put GW’s student government back on track.

We believe junior Residence Hall Association President Arielle Geismar is the right person for the job, and we encourage students to vote for her for SA president this year.

Geismar is the only candidate on the ballot not directly affiliated with the SA in some way, and she has the clearest understanding that the SA serves the entire student body, not just the SA itself. After a year of internecine feuds and internal drama, her outsider perspective is just what GW’s student government needs.

Geismar may be an outsider to the SA, but she’s no stranger to student advocacy. Electing her would lay the groundwork for a better student experience. Beyond serving as the president of the RHA – a position former SA President SJ Matthews also held – she was also a member of the Student Health Advisory Council, which examines on-campus health care issues.

Geismar’s experience stands out in a field of current and former SA members. So did the six-page platform she presented to the editorial board. Rather than just a list of ideas – extend hours at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, make the SA’s financial allocations process more transparent and so on – Geismar also noted what she’d need to do and what she’s already done to turn her platform into policy.

Any candidate needs to execute on their goals to be successful, especially Geismar, whose platform includes a list of 11 goals under the umbrella of improving students’ health, experience and safety. But Geismar has already taken steps in the right direction on nearly all of her initiatives.

Take her plan to address food insecurity on campus. With Whole Foods moving off the GWorld system later this year, Geismar wants to teach students how to cook easy and affordable meals at the Shenkman Hall dining hall’s teaching kitchen. Besides an overhead camera setup that allows diners to watch chefs prepare food, the teaching kitchen mostly just functions as another station for students to grab a meal from. To do so, she said she’d work with officials from Chartwells Higher Education and GW Dining to elicit students’ feedback on the dining halls, and she said she’s already developed connections with them after running focus groups on the University’s dining experience through the RHA.

Geismar would also turn to creative solutions to amplify students’ voices and address the issues they face. As one part of her plan to shift GW’s culture to combat sexual assault on campus, she said she would create a traveling art installation around campus highlighting the experiences of student survivors of sexual assault.

Geismar’s less flashy ideas, like installing more outlets in large lecture halls, would better students’ experience at the University.

The editorial board also met with the four other presidential candidates – SA Sen. Rami Hanash Jr., GWSB-U, former SA transportation secretary Nathan Orner, Zidouemba’s Chief of Staff Keanu Rowe and former SA senior policy adviser Edy Koenigs. We also talked to Zidouemba and GW Entrepreneurship Club leader Mohamed Redzuan Bin Mohamed Raffe before the Joint Elections Commission disqualified both candidates from appearing on the ballot last week.

Hanash’s focus on graduate student outreach acknowledged a part of GW’s community that can go overlooked. Yet how he would do so remained unclear in the platform he provided to the editorial board.

Koenigs’ plan to mandate diversity, equity and inclusion training for adjunct and tenured professors would make GW more welcoming for all students. But when we asked her for more details, it was clear Koenigs’ plan would depend on departmental faculty contract negotiations. No matter how necessary such training is, that’s a tall order for any SA president – the role typically involves presenting student advocacy to officials rather than collaborating with faculty.

Orner’s marquee proposal to install new crosswalks around the Foggy Bottom Campus and close off H Street between 22nd and 21st streets would make getting around easier and safer, but the buy-in needed from GW, residents and local and city officials makes it unlikely to happen.

Finally, Rowe’s idea for a University field day would bring students together. Yet such an event seems awfully familiar to the already-popular GW Palooza or Fountain Day on the Mount Vernon Campus. And without a platform from Rowe, it was difficult for us to learn more about his other plans for campus safety and dining.

We would have liked to hear more from each of the candidates about how they’d address incidents of racism and discrimination on campus. This is one area where Geismar’s platform lacked detail, and we hope she will create and share a plan with students if elected.

Geismar’s particular blend of experience, plans and drive makes her the best contender to be the SA’s next president. Students should vote for her April 13 and 14.

The editorial board consists of Hatchet staff members and operates separately from the newsroom. This week’s staff editorial was written by Opinions Editor Ethan Benn and Contributing Opinions Editor Julia Koscelnik, based on discussions with Sports Editor Nuria Diaz, Managing Editor Jaden DiMauro, Culture Editor Clara Duhon, Design Editor Grace Miller and Social Media Director Ethan Valliath.

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