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SA Senate investigates closure of dining halls during finals week, opens questionnaire

Rapheal Kellner | Staff Photographer
Members of the Student Association Senate during the meeting Monday.

Updated: Jan. 26, 2024, at 11:28 a.m.

Members of the Student Association Special Committee on Dining said they are investigating the closure of dining halls throughout the fall semester’s final exam period.

SA Sen. Izzy Brophy (CCAS-U), the chair of the special committee, said the committee was “dismayed” by the lack of open dining halls on campus during finals week, which left students unable to use their remaining meal swipes for the semester. Brophy — who delivered Vice Chair SA Sen. Dan Saleem (CCAS-U)’s committee report because he was absent from the meeting — said Saleem released a questionnaire for students to express their concerns and share personal testimonies of their dining experiences from finals week when meals in the dining halls were “scarce.”

Brophy said dining committee leaders will be meeting with Associate Vice President of Business Services Seth Weinshel this week to ensure the closures during finals week will not happen again. Officials closed dining venues during the week of Dec. 11, while the final exam period ran until Dec. 19. Students said they were left unable to use their dining plans because sole open dining hall, Thurston Hall, was not fully stocked with food.

“We cannot and will not stand idly by when students are not able to use the meal plans that they paid for,” Saleem’s report states.

University spokesperson Julia Metjian said earlier this month that officials heard from students who were frustrated with dining closures in December and that GW Dining looks at “anticipated demand” during nonregular operating periods — like early arrival, fall break, thanksgiving break and finals — to determine which locations are open and hours of operations. Metjian said officials will continue to solicit student feedback as they look at how best to serve the campus community given the reduced demand during these periods.

“Student feedback is extremely important as we continue to refine our new dining program,” Metjian said in an email.

Brophy also said the SA Special Committee on Dining also sent out a separate survey to students asking for reflections on their overall dining experiences in anticipation of the academic year ahead. She said the survey has already received a “plethora” of responses, which the committee will share in April.

Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Christy Anthony gauged SA senators’ opinions and encouraged student feedback regarding a potential midyear change to the Code of Academic Integrity. She said a shortage of available faculty panelists that hear cases of alleged academic dishonesty has led to challenges in effectively settling cases under the code.

Anthony said GW has seen a 313 percent increase in reported academic integrity violations and a 53 percent decrease in faculty panelists participating in the hearing process over the past two years. Anthony proposed reducing panels, including hearings, to only one SRR staff member for cases pertaining to violations that demand a disciplinary action below a suspension.

“For me, one of the distinctions here is this is a change in how we process cases,” Anthony said. “It’s not any change at all in what the expectations of students are.”

SA President Arielle Geismar said the executive order which created two special councils that will advocate for Jewish and Israeli students and Arab, Muslim and Palestinian students on campus is now accepting applications. Geismar said the executive and the senate branch of the SA will review the applications on a rolling basis, with each council headed by two commissioners — one chosen by the SA president and one by the SA Senate.

“If you’re interested you can either check the email that went out today or also online on social media in order to get to the association’s Linktree that’s available,” Geismar said.

SA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis said the GW Career Expo will return to campus for its second year during the third week of February, where the University will welcome more than 100 employers from across the country to campus and Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) — a GW alum — as the keynote speaker. He said the expo will feature resume workshops and will teach students how to elevator pitch themselves to potential employers.

“Students will have the opportunity to speak to all different employers, have the opportunity to get jobs, internships and career advice,” Apostolis said.

SA Senators unanimously approved SA Sen. Emma Hodgson (ESIA-U) to become the new chair of the Undergraduate Student Life Committee after the former chair Emmy Ly resigned at the end of last semester. Hodgson, who formerly served as vice chair, said she will be able to further develop her ideas and work to advocate for undergraduate students in the position.

SA senators also unanimously confirmed Maya Renteria as the Senior Director of the Legislative Budget Office after former director Nathan Nguyen graduated last semester.

Apostolis also read a public comment submitted by junior Sam Parnis who demanded the SA pull funding from Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity as they have admitted to hazing and social probation in SRR trials. The comment also alleged Alpha Sigma Phi has “covered up sexual and physical assault” and raised money during philanthropy events but never donated it.

The SA has not allocated funds to Alpha Sigma Phi in the past two general allocation cycles, according to the dispersal bills.

“If they receive any SA funding it should be pulled and in addition IFC funding must be suspended until Alpha Sigma Phi is removed from their council,” the public comment read.

Senators will hold their next meeting Feb. 5, 2024 at 8 p.m. in the University Student Center Grand Ballroom.

This post was updated to clarify the following:

The Hatchet updated this post to clarify that Brophy read Saleem’s report because he was absent from the meeting.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Marr, Assistant News Editor
Hannah Marr is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communication and history from New York, New York.  She is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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