How the Student Association works
As this year’s elections approach, the Student Association (SA) is again becoming a major topic of conversation on campus. While many students are attentive to SA politics during the election and have a basic understanding of the organization, it can be easy to overlook how the SA works and its ongoing impact on the university.
The Student Association is organized into legislative, executive, and judicial branches and is governed by a charter, constitution, and bylaws. According to the charter, the SA is intended to act as the “primary representative” of students at GW and derives its powers from the Board of Trustees.
The SA senate is currently chaired by Executive Vice President Ojani Walthrust and includes 17 undergraduate senators and 19 graduate senators. The senate has four major committees—Finance, Academic Affairs, Student Life, and Governance and Nominations—which focus on policies specifically related to those areas. The primary roles of the SA Senate are to develop and vote on policies and resolutions and to allocate funds to student organizations.
The executive branch is led by current SA President Ashley Le and includes the Executive Cabinet of vice presidents and directors. Vice presidents are nominated by the president and require confirmation by a two-thirds vote in the senate, while directors are appointed by the president as needed.
The judicial branch includes the student court, made up of five judges, which is designed to serve as a check on the executive and legislative branches.
Functions and Responsibilities
One of the SA’s primary responsibilities is that of the Senate Finance Committee to allocate more than $1.7 million to student organizations. Each spring, organizations submit their proposed budgets to the Finance Committee for consideration. These funds come from the Student Association Fee, paid by students each semester according to the number of credits they take.
The SA’s other major role is to make recommendations to university administrators through the passage of resolutions. It’s important to note that, while the SA’s resolutions serve as suggestions on behalf of the student body, the SA does not have the power to directly change university policy.
The SA also develops projects and initiatives, including GW Listens, Top Textbooks, and efforts to increase affordability.
The positions of president and executive vice president are elected by a plurality of at least 40 percent of votes cast according to the SA Constitution. All voting seats in the SA senate are also open to election, including two at-large senators and senators to represent each school.
The GW Joint Elections Commission (JEC) oversees elections for the Student Association, Program Board, and Class Council. This year's elections will be held on March 27 and 28. Students will receive an email with links to the ballot on March 27. More information on how to vote is available on the JEC website.