Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Sophomore SGA senator stages run for presidency

Karsyn Meyerson | Staff Photographer
Saleem said he brought his prior experience working alongside those who disagree with him in the military to the “contentious” environment of the SGA.

A Student Government Association senator announced his bid for SGA president Tuesday, the first student to stage a run in this year’s presidential race.

Sophomore Sen. Dan Saleem (CCAS-U), who studies political science, said if elected, he plans to expand the food options for students with religious accommodations, advocate for “nontraditional students” like those living on the Mount Vernon Campus and student-athletes, and halve the size of the SGA’s executive cabinet. Saleem looks to build his campaign off his work in the senate this year to improve the quality of dining halls, increase composting on campus as chair of the SGA’s Sustainability Committee and request the University accept military credit for student degrees as a member of the U.S. Army.

He said he wants to reduce the SGA’s executive cabinet from 60 to 30 members to prevent “bureaucracy” because he found the governing body is able to achieve more when fewer people are involved. SGA President Arielle Geismar expanded her cabinet in May to reduce the amount of work on senators, but Saleem said he believes a large cabinet leads to a lack of change within the SGA because not all senators will be on the “right page.”

He added that the amount of scheduling required for senators to meet with students posed a “time crunch” to an initiative that increased the amount of campus prayer spaces for Muslim students this year, causing students to change prayer rooms near the start of Ramadan because of a lack of space.

“Right now, it seems like scheduling a meeting and going through this bureaucracy, it’s lackluster, and then it ends up in nothing being done,” Saleem said.

Saleem said he created the Mount Vernon Resource Group last year, where senators and a student representative worked to identify facilities issues on the Vern that resulted in door repairs last summer in front of West Hall. The group also identified a lack of sanitation in The Eatery at Pelham Commons last year, which led to his creation last spring of the Special Committee on Dining, a senate committee to address problems in dining halls like food poisoning.

Saleem said as president, he wants to provide students with easy recipes and education on cooking in residence halls for those that have kitchens to improve the dining experience on campus. He said he will work to bridge the gap between administration and students to ease dining concerns and will advocate to explore different dining hall food providers in an effort to increase religious accommodations.

Last year, GW Dining launched a Dining Student Advisory Panel last year that holds monthly meetings with students and dining administrators to garner feedback pertaining to experiences in dining halls.

“I understand that dining administration is working and changing to be better about hygienic matters but that is not getting through to the students,” Saleem said. “They are not feeling the difference or impact.”

As chair of the SGA’s Sustainability Committee, Saleem launched a residence hall composting competition in October that saw a 200-pound increase in compost donated compared to the year prior, but no Vern residents participated because there were no composting stations on the campus. He said in November the committee plans to host more competitions in upcoming semesters where they will better incorporate Vern residents.

Saleem said as a first-generation student of color, he understands what it’s like to face discrimination on campus for the way that he looks and receive “rash and harsh” judgements. He said he understands that it is “necessary” to stand up to administration and have difficult conversations about the problems students face when it comes to advocating for them.

“In the past, when it comes to dining, when it comes to Mount Vernon, when it comes to getting a federal election day off, I have proven that I’m ready to have the grit and talk with administration about the real issues,” Saleem said. “I’m not afraid.”

Saleem sponsored a resolution in October requesting that students receive accommodations like recorded lectures and virtual classes from faculty and staff in order to increase the accessibility of voting on Election Day. He said in January that SGA Vice President Demetrius Apostolis had been in contact with Provost Chris Bracey to discuss implementing the bill.

Saleem said he hopes to revive GW Listens — a now-inactive peer mental health support hotline created by the SGA in 2016 — after receiving low student turnout at his own SGA office hours, which are held weekly on Friday between 9:30 a.m. and noon. Saleem said he wants to use the platform for students to contact senators through text messaging and phone calls to establish an “open door” between the SGA and the student body.

“Currently, I have office hours and I sit in the office that we have on the fourth floor, nobody shows up,” he said. “No one’s gonna want to show up to a corporate style office on the fourth floor. What they would like is an SMS text hotline. They would want a number to call.”

He said if elected, he plans to “break down that door” in the SGA office to allow students to come in and voice their issues at any time during the day to allow for further communication between students and SGA leaders. Saleem said students should not have to make an appointment to meet with the president if they want to have the most accessible SGA possible.

“My grandma, who’s my absolute idol, told me ‘You’re better than no one Daniel, and no one’s better than you.’ I want to follow that, just because you’re the president, or a senator or a secretary doesn’t mean you’re better than anybody,” Saleem said.

Saleem said his military service prior to attending GW taught him how to work alongside people with differing opinions, a skill he has employed in the “contentious” environment of the senate where students have varied opinions on the body’s role in the community.

“Listening to people and hearing them out before making a decision, before taking any action and being proactive rather than reactive is a really good skill that I’ve learned through my many experiences with the SGA,” Saleem said.

Candidate registration for the SGA election closes March 26. Saleem must collect at least 379 signatures from students, which will then be verified by the Joint Elections Commission, before he will officially be on the ballot. The commission will hold the election April 11 and 12.

More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet