Meet SA presidential candidate Nicole Cennamo

Sophomore Nicole Cennamo says that she loves the process of developing initiatives and writing policies. But that isn’t what motivated her to enter this year’s race for president of the Student Association (SA).

“The nature of student advocacy transcends proposals and committees,” said Cennamo, a political science major from Connecticut. “Advocacy is about caring for people themselves.”

During her freshman year Cennamo served as assistant vice president for academic affairs in the SA’s Executive Cabinet, and she currently holds the position of vice president for academic affairs.

Cennamo’s campaign slogan, “Prioritizing YOU,” reflects her belief that student voices should be included in all university initiatives—especially those led by the SA. She noted that some students may view the SA as elitist or feel unrepresented by GW’s student government.

“Students don’t always feel comfortable coming to the SA,” Cennamo said.

If elected SA president, she hopes to “help empower others and make them feel like they matter in this university” and wants “students to feel that someone is in their corner.”

Cennamo cited the SA’s classroom clicker report as an example of her experience using direct student input to help guide the SA’s priorities. She also said that her experiences in the SA have provided her with an understanding of how to navigate GW bureaucracy.

 “Our mission as a student advocacy body is to support students and transform visions into realities,” she said.

Platform and Policies

Cennamo’s platform includes four pillars: affordability, transparency, equity, and community.

Cennamo noted that “the financial burden of this university can create barriers for students,” which she wants to help alleviate.

She hopes to improve affordability for GW students by expanding the meal deals program, standardizing the cost of clickers required for classes, and providing free student event venues. She also hopes to eliminate the cost of doctors’ notes at the Colonial Health Center by expanding the types of insurance accepted.

Cennamo emphasized the importance of making GW offices more transparent to improve accountability to students. Cennamo’s platform proposes a financial aid compact to hold the Office of Student Financial Assistance accountable for their handling of students’ financial aid packages. She also wants to increase transparency in connection with GW’s housing department and develop a Sustainable Investment Task Force that would include students, faculty, and administrators.

Connected to her platform pillar of equity, Cennamo explained that she believes diversity and inclusion training should be required for GW faculty. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that “all students feel welcome and comfortable in the classroom.”

Cennamo also noted that there is a need to improve campus accessibility, stating that GW’s accessibility website itself is not accessible. She said she has met with Vice Provost Caroline Brown and Director for Diversity and Inclusion Jordan West to discuss accessibility issues.

“If an issue affects students’ access to resources, it’s the university’s responsibility to address it,” she explained.

Cennamo also hopes to develop an intersectionality residential community on the Mount Vernon campus, and she noted that the campus currently lacks multicultural community spaces. She said that the residential community would be for “students who feel marginalized or are interested in intersectionality issues” with the goal of fostering intersectionality discussions on the campus.

In order to support campus community more broadly, Cennamo hopes to create a student living room on the fourth floor of the Marvin Center, which would serve as “a space for all students to relax and feel more at home.”

She also emphasized the need to improve campus firearm safety. Her proposals include putting active shooter situation protocols on course syllabi to promote student awareness of what to do in emergency situations and providing classrooms with trauma kits.

Cennamo hopes to implement a reward-based first-year experience program, which would include workshops and events to help first-year students navigate college life.

Concerning efforts to improve GW’s Title IX compliance, Cennamo emphasized that sexual assault issues are one of her priorities, citing her experience in GW’s Women’s Leadership Network. She said that she would support student organizations in combating sexual assault, including the Panhellenic Association and Students Against Sexual Assault.

If elected SA president, Cennamo said that she would “fight day and night to make sure that people feel like they matter.”

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series profiling this year’s candidates for SA president. The Rival does not endorse any candidates for student office. Student Association elections will be held on March 27 and 28.