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The GW Hatchet

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SBA swears in president, executive vice president for 2024-25 academic year

Arwen Clemans | Staff Photographer
From left to right outgoing Student Bar Association President Shallum Atkinson, Vice President of Finance Spencer Sandusky and incoming President Raisa Shah applaud during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The Student Bar Association Senate swore in its incoming president, executive vice president and senators for the 2024-25 academic year in their final meeting of the year Tuesday.

Second-year law students Raisa Shah and Cherissa Lindsay were sworn in as president and executive vice president, respectively, and said they are excited to work with the upcoming senate. Outgoing President Shallum Atkinson and Executive Vice President Kaitlin Fontana wished the new senate members luck in their upcoming term and said they hope the incoming senate will continue to advocate for students through charter bills and events.

“Students came to me this year and talked about how they didn’t feel heard, didn’t feel seen and I hope that you will continue to seek out those students and continue to advocate for them,” Atkinson said.

SBA senators unanimously approved a bill allocating the remaining $3,553.40 of the senate’s ad hoc budget to the Student Assistance Funds, which is run by the University and provides immediate financial assistance to students in emergency situations. SBA Sen. Akhil Kambhammettu, who chairs the SBA Finance Committee, said the money will go toward food insecurity and housing for students in need at GW.

SBA senators also voted to reimburse two students $200 for the cost of their attendance at the National Federal Bar Association Indian Law Conference. Kambhammettu said the students previously received money from the Professional Development Fund, a SBA fund of $10,000 set aside to cover costs for student law conference registration fees, lodging and travel, but reached the fund’s $500 maximum per student.

The SBA Finance Committee voted against the bill in committee before they brought it before the senate because committee members said it was “unfair” for students who already received reimbursements from another fund to request additional money from the Professional Development Fund.

SBA senators approved an act to restart Nota Bene, a law student-run newspaper that was originally created in 1952 under the name Amicus Curaie, but stopped operating in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Connor J. Toth, who sponsored the bill, said more than 30 students are interested in joining Nota Bene because it will give them an outlet to write about law school events that are not covered by other student newspapers like The Hatchet.

“The Hatchet comes to SBA meetings but misses the rest of what’s going on at GW Law,” Toth said. “There’s a lot of things that happen here that is specific to law students that the rest of the GW community doesn’t care as much about that law students are very interested in.”

SBA senators also unanimously voted to reimburse Native American Law Students Association member Rachel Conrad $418.30 for flight costs for indigenous speaker Yaku Perez’s upcoming trip to GW. Kambhammettu said the SBA Finance Committee voted against the bill because the SBA typically rejects finance requests for covering expenses of guest speakers.

Senators voted to allot Conrad the money because the precedent is not explicitly written into financial policy laws.  SBA Sen. Delaney Gatine, a member of the Finance Committee, said she supported the allocation because students do not know that the SBA follows this precedent when applying for guest speakers because it is not written down.

“NALSA is a new student group but we’re really trying to get excitement around the group and get younger students to join so that it doesn’t disappear as a group. This is an amazing opportunity,” Conrad said.

SBA senators also passed a bill allocating $132.75 for the Law Association for Women’s graduation chords and $24.25 in reimbursements for refreshments purchases for their networking panel last week.

Hannah Marr contributed reporting.

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