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

SA Senate forms mental health assembly

The joint assembly will make recommendations to officials on how to improve mental health resources.
Chuckie Copeland | Staff Photographer
Senators gather for the meeting.

The Student Association Senate formed a joint assembly to improve campus mental health resources during a meeting Monday.

The Mental Health Support Act establishes a joint assembly between the senate and the executive branch that will make recommendations to members of the GW administration and other staff on how to improve mental health resources on campus. The act’s sponsor, Sen. Ethan Fitzgerald (CCAS-U), said he worked closely with SA President Arielle Geismar on the initiative because student mental health is imperative to both branches.

“This is something that I’m really looking forward to working on,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s an essential issue and an area where our body can really do a lot of good work for the students.”

SA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis said Geismar will nominate her candidate for the executive co-chair at the next senate meeting.

Fitzgerald — who was unanimously elected to serve as the senate co-chair for the assembly — said he modeled the assembly on a “mental health working group” he was a part of last year, which came to some initial recommendations on supporting students’ mental health.

Fitzgerald said the assembly will speak to students about where they feel GW has “fallen short” with providing mental health resources because students on campus are more informed on the issues due to personal experience. Fitzgerald said the assembly also plans to consult mental health-centered student groups like Active Minds GW.

The senate also unanimously passed the Collaboration Act. The resolution, which Fitzgerald also sponsored, will work to encourage more collaboration between the executive and senate branches by requiring any future assemblies to have a senate and executive branch co-chair, which is why the mental health assembly will seat two co-chairs. Fitzgerald said he felt that collaboration between the branches was lacking in prior administrations.

“This is something that has been tedious at times,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t need to cite examples, but we all have them in mind.”

The senate also voted unanimously to approve Geismar’s $16,575 executive budget for fiscal year 2024. The budget includes allocations for student body projects, like subsidizing the cost of generic Plan B for the contraceptive vending machines and covers SA operations, like subscription services and a food and drink fund for branch members.

The senate also unanimously passed the Executive Budget Optimization Act, changing the bylaw funding requirements for the Student Organizations Resource Center, which provides resources like printing and supply rental to student groups. The legislation reduces the minimum allocation amount from $15,000 to $10,000, allowing the executive cabinet to divert an additional $5,000 to other areas of the budget that need more funding.

Geismar said the full $15,000 allocation for the center went unused years prior.

Sen. Izzy Brophy (CCAS-U), the chair of the special committee on dining, said she found a “small rock” in her food when eating at the Shenkman Hall dining hall last week. Brophy said her committee is also finalizing a dining feedback survey for students.

“This is a major food safety violation that must be resolved immediately and cannot wait until this committee’s report at the end of the semester,” Brophy said.

Geismar said she spoke with the Board of Trustees Academic Affairs Committee to advocate for student concerns about rising tuition and textbook costs. Geismar added that she is working on a project to make therapy dogs available in the University Student Center.

Geismar added that the Student Health Center will be extending hours and adding appointment availability in the evenings and on weekends. She also said the SHC added a gynecologist and a mental health clinician who specializes in working with LGBTQ+ students to its staff.

Apostolis said he has had conversations with University President Ellen Granberg and Geismar to secure additional funding for The GW Emergency Medical Response Group to provide the “best possible support” for students. Apostolis said he also talked with Granberg about plans for the 2024 Career Exploration Expo, which is scheduled for late February.

“We are committed to ensuring that our emergency response services here have the necessary resources to provide the best possible support for our students,” Apostolis said.

GW Esports shared their goals for the semester in a presentation to the senate and allowed senators to ask questions about their organization. Apostolis said inviting student organizations to speak at senate meetings “showcases” student accomplishments.

Senators will hold their next meeting Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. in the student center’s Grand Ballroom.

Hannah Marr contributed reporting.

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