The SA met on Monday, October 5th to discuss Freshmen Representative nominations for the 2020-2021 school term. Before speeches from the nominees, Vice President Brandon Hill introduced public comments from students who joined the meeting, and those who left online statements to be made by Hill.
Many of the public comments addressed a post on social media which the SA promoted on their page. The Armenian Students Association’s post spoke out in support of the Armenian government in their current conflict with Azerbaijan.
Seymur Haseynav, an international student at GW, asked the SA to issue an apology for taking a side in this issue, suggesting that they isolated Azerbaijani students in doing so.
“The SA is supposed to represent all students . . . not take sides . . . It’s really tough and emotional because there’s always a possibility to lose a loved one,” Haseynav said.
Another anonymous student criticized the decision to “take sides” in a “decades-long ethnic conflict.”
“It is not a simple issue, it should not be exploited for the clout of performative activism,” the student said.
President Howard Brookins III issued a formal apology on behalf of the Student Association and admitted that the posts chosen to be promoted by the SA do not undergo any “vetting process” before posting.
“The SA should not involve itself in rapidly evolving geopolitical issues, and I apologize on behalf of the executive branch,” Brookins said.
Brookins also updated the senate on the Board of Trustees meeting, where they condemned the SA’s call for President LeBlanc to resign. The board accused the student association of putting energy into “dividing” the GW community.
But Brookins stands by the decision, saying he and the call for resignation have received support from both students and faculty.
The overwhelming student sentiment is that their voice is ignored . . . They know someone is fighting with them, we will keep fighting until those voices are heard.”
After public comments and updates from different committees, the nominees for Freshmen representatives gave brief speeches and fielded questions from acting senators about their desired positions.
Hill urged senators to consider that most students running for these positions have never been on campus.
“While they will be bringing powerful voices to the table, we should be cautious of asking them what should be changed about GW,” Hill said.
He also told all the candidates that they could still participate in the Student Association no matter who got each position.
“Regardless of tonight’s outcome, there is a place for you.”