News and Analysis


Ted Costigan

Alex Mizenko, SPHHS-U, and incoming chair of the Student Association Finance Committee, sponsored a bill outlining changes to graduate student organizations' funding policies at the group's final meeting of the year Monday. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor.

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Kaya Yurieff and Kierran Petersen 

The Student Association Senate approved new funding policies for student groups at its last meeting of the year – an attempt to make the funding process more fair for graduate organizations.

Graduate students claimed this year they were shortchanged by a policy that combined cash from student fees into a campus-wide pool.

The new policy was written by incoming finance chair Alex Mizenko, SPHHS-U. The bill, which was approved by a two-thirds vote Monday, will direct funds graduate students pay each year through the student fee back to graduate groups.

“It was something we talked about all year,” finance chair John Bennett, U-At-Large, said. “Most grad students are pretty much disconnected from undergrad programs. They don’t go to undergrad events.”

The policy will go into effect during fall allocations for GW’s five graduate student umbrella groups: the Student Bar Association, the  Medical Center Student Council, the MBA Association, the Graduate School of Education and Human Development Student Association and the Trachtenberg Student Organization.

Senator Will Rone, SEAS-G, said after the meeting that he will offer an amendment to the bill to funnel about 5 percent of graduate student fee money into the campus-wide pool to account for large-scale programming events. Rone will return as a senator next year.Executive Vice President Ted Costigan lauded the organization for lobbying for cost of attendance and streamlining the student organization funding process. He credited Bennett’s leadership for clarifying the financial process and making the allocations process as transparent as possible.

“We’ve done that better than anyone ever has allocating funds,” Costigan said.

The senate also passed a resolution spearheaded by Elizabeth Kennedy, ESIA-U, that would make Greek merchandise available for purchase at the GW bookstore during a fall fair.

Kennedy said Greek life students have to travel to the University of Maryland to purchase merchandise, which Kennedy said is a “long and relatively dangerous commute.”

The Student Association Senate-elect met for the first time last week, and will officially take over May 4.

This post was updated on April 17, 2012 to reflect this change:
Due to a reporting error, The Hatchet incorrectly said this policy change would affect the amount of money slated for undergraduates.

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Student Association President John Richardson shared plans to refocus his fee task force, charging members to take on a more active role in seeking out fees across the University at Monday night's SA Senate meeting. Bryan Hoechner | Hatchet Photographer

GW’s top two student leaders promised Monday to soon publish a comprehensive list of fees to eliminate, despite the red tape and roadblocks University administrators have allegedly thrown in the duo’s way, Student Association President John Richardson said during the SA’s first senate meeting of the semester.

Richardson and Executive Vice President Ted Costigan laid out plans to target fees in September, creating a student-led task force that relied on University administrative offices to report all fees under each department those offices oversee.

Richardson acknowledged the approach was not working.

“If you want to do something right, you’ve got to do it yourself,” Richardson said to the SA Senate. “We relied on people who weren’t as interested in cost-of-attendance issues as we were.”

The task force, which meets every other week, hopes to release a full list of fees by late February, Costigan said.

Richardson also spent several minutes reporting on other projects, including collaborative student space on the Marvin Center’s fourth floor and efforts to restore free newspapers to campus. He also issued an apology to the senators, in response to a Jan. 17 Hatchet article in which Richardson lashed out against senators for inaction throughout the fall.

“I didn’t feel there was some sort of internal strife. I was just frustrated for how the conversation was going. I do value what a lot of you guys are doing,” Richardson said.

He then challenged members for the second time this year to “pick one advocacy goal” related to their specific schools and make progress on that initiative before the semester’s end.

The body also confirmed Richardson’s third appointee to the Joint Elections Committee, former senator and sophomore Kirk Wilson.

Wilson said that as a member, he would help JEC Chair Phil Gardner steer the committee away from its role as “the watchdog” of the election.

“We’re going to monitor as we’re supposed to,” Wilson said. “But we’re not going to go out there and nitpick.”

Sen. Michael Amesquita, G-GSEHD, voiced concern that this year’s election oversight committee would take a looser approach to the JEC’s charter to focus on boosting publicity.

“If they’re not the ones who are going to be nitpicking and making sure it is fair to everyone, I’m not sure who will be,” Amesquita said.

The senate’s standing committees also shared thought about new initiatives such as launching an online syllabi bank and overhauling graduate student organization funding.

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Marika Lee, vice president of Allied in Pride, lobbies senators Josh Goldstein and Cory Grever to sponsor a condom dispenser bill. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor

Student Association President John Richardson called on SA senators Monday to help his administration create a broad agenda by pinpointing school-specific issues the organization should tackle this semester.

Richardon said he and Executive Vice President Ted Costigan would continue to lobby for “global issues,” like revamping GW’s career center, but they need senators to find and advocate for smaller issues.

“Ted and I don’t have time to focus on all the school specific problems – that’s where you guys come in,” Richardson said at the first Senate meeting of the year. “If we can do global and school-specific issues, we’re gonna knock it out of the park.”

Members of Allied in Pride attended the meeting seeking a sponsor for their condom dispenser campaign, which would add free condom machines in every residence hall.

Allied Vice President Marika Lee said 25 student organizations across campus have pledged support for the initiative, and she hopes the Student Association supports the cause. Costigan voiced support of the bill, saying he hopes it will come to the floor at the next SA Senate meeting Sept. 19.

Costigan also announced a partnership with campus groups including College Republicans, College Democrats and Program Board to launch a debate series later this semester. He said the debates would be modeled after last year’s “incredibly successful” Howard Dean and Newt Gingrich event.

Each debate would bring in political heavyweights to discuss an issue that resonates with college students. Costigan said the series would kick off this semester, although it is still in the planning stage.

Finance chair and senator John Bennett, U-At Large, said he worries about the “sustainability” of the program’s costs. Costigan said the groups would each use their connections within the University and the city to select speakers and venues in order to keep costs low.

Costigan joked that what GW students lacked in athletic fervor, they made up in political involvement.

“Politics are our sports,” he said. “We want to cater to that.”


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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 1:03 p.m.

SA to offer White House tours

The Student Association is providing 1,500 students with the opportunity to tour the White House on Sept. 6.

The 30-minute walk-through tours of the East Wing will be from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Spots will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

SA President John Richardson and Executive Vice President Ted Costigan promoted the event during the student organization fair Tuesday night. Richardson said about 250 students signed up by 12 p.m. Wednesday.

Richardson said he learned of the opportunity through Ronnie Cho, the associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Richardson was in contact with Cho this summer as part of the debt deal campaign launched by university student body presidents across the country. Their campaign, “Do We Have a Deal Yet?” garnered the interest of the Office of Public Engagement, which invited the coalition to participate in several conference calls about college-specific student issues.

“We had an opportunity to invite students from local high schools and universities to tour the White House and we’re glad that many of them will participate,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye said.

Students can sign up at the Student Association office in Marvin Center room 424 between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. or by e-mailing with their personal information in this order: last name, first name, middle initial, date of birth, Social Security number, citizen (yes or no), country, gender, address as it appears on ID, e-mail address, and time slot (7:30, 8, 8:30, 9, 9:30, 10, 10:30, 11 a.m.)

The deadline to register is tonight at 6:30 p.m.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011 1:35 p.m.

SA Senate confirms Richardson cabinet

Senate members, from left, Josh Goldstein, CCAS-U, John Bennett, At Large-U, and Gary Wong, CCAS-G, vote to confirm candidates for President-elect John Richardson's cabinets. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor

The Student Association Senate-elect approved all 13 of John Richardson’s cabinet nominees Monday night.

Twelve of the president-elect’s cabinet members were approved unanimously, with the vice president for community affairs receiving only one nay.

Senator Manny Iglesias, ESIA-U, refused to vote for Miles Selib as vice president for community affairs because he wasn’t confident in the freshman’s ability to stand up to the Advisory Neighborhood Committee. Selib said he would bring in established student organizations to fight for student interests.

Nupur Moondra, the vice president for financial affairs, will be the only returning cabinet member. Moondra was purposefully kept on, Richardson said, because of the changes to the allocations process. Richardson said he needed someone with experience to guide his cabinet through the process.

Three candidates who could not attend the meeting were also confirmed.

After a failed attempt to postpone the vote to hear from the nominees in person, the senate confirmed Regina Orlando, Rohan Batra, and Anthony Bellmon as vice presidents of public affairs, academic affairs, and undergraduate student policy respectively.

Junior Aria Varasteh, the newly confirmed vice president for student activities, was on the executive board for three student organizations and said his priority is to make sure the SA is strongly advocating for student groups.

Tom Fogarty, a fourth year student in the GW Medical School, will be the vice president for graduate student policy.

Matthew Gripp, another graduate student, was confirmed as the vice president for judicial and legislative affairs. As a graduate of law school, Gripp said he will make sure the senate complies with SA bylaws and charter.

The senate also confirmed the following cabinet members at Monday’s meeting:


Andrew Goldstein

Representatives to the Joint Committee of Faculty and Students

Dylan Pyne – chair

Kevin Dore

Sam Horowitz

Sen. Gary Wong

Sen. Corey Greaver

SA Representative to the Marvin Center Governing  Board

Aaron Kanarek

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President-elect John Richardson greets supporters after clinching the Student Association top spot Thursday night. Francis Rivera | Contributing Photo Editor

John Richardson beat out Chris Clark for Student Association president by a margin of just 34 votes Thursday night.

Eric Thibault, right, congratulates Ted Costigan, the newly elected executive vice president of the SA, Thursday. Francis Rivera | Contributing Photo Editor

Richardson, a sophomore, earned 50.6 percent of the vote to Clark’s 49.4 percent.

“It was a close race, but I’m excited to get started,” Richardson said. “We have a lot of big things on our plate and we can’t wait to get the ball rolling.”

Ted Costigan was elected executive vice president over Amanda Galonek with 53.7 percent of the vote.

“Students want a fighter and I’m answering to that call,” Costigan, a junior, said.

The student body also approved a referendum to create an instant runoff voting system by 61 percent.


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Thursday, March 24, 2011 8:19 p.m.

SA election results liveblog

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 4:57 p.m.

Runoff candidates vie for votes

The campaign atmosphere on H Street was a far cry from what it was two weeks ago, as the four candidates for Student Association president and executive vice president vied for the attention of student voters Wednesday, the first day of the runoff election.

Runoff elections – which occur when no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote required to win – are often more subdued than general elections, as there are fewer candidates and less posters scattered across campus.

Presidential candidate John Richardson said he will be outside all day meeting and getting to know the students better in an effort to win the election.

“We have a really strong presence out here and have laid out the groundwork to push us over the edge,” Richardson, who garnered 25.02 percent of the vote in the general election, said.

The scene was amicable as Richardson and his opponent Chris Clark – who received the most votes among the seven original presidential candidates  – stood together joking around as friends.

“He’s a good guy,” Richardson said, motioning toward Clark. “Just because we’re campaigning against each other doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.”

Clark agreed with Richardson, noting his excitement in the final stretch of the campaign.

“It’s a great day to be palm carding, baby,” Clark said. “We’ll be out here all day getting the word out.”

Executive vice presidential candidate Ted Costigan said he was the first to arrive on H Street at 7:45 a.m. to start campaigning.

“We’re motivated and got here early to begin the fight to win,” said Costigan, who received the largest percent of the vote among the EVP candidates at 32.53 percent.

Costigan is going up against EVP candidate Amanda Galonek, who garnered 26.53 of the vote in the general election.

Galonek, an SA senator and veteran to campaigning, noted the need to get the word out to students to vote in the runoff election.

“With seven presidential and five EVP candidates in the general election, voters came from every constituency,” Galonek said, referring to the general election. “Now that it is just between four candidates, we have to work harder to get the students to jump on board and vote.”

Online voting will end Thursday at 9 p.m.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 1:28 a.m.

Clark, Costigan safe from ballot removal

Presidential candidate Chris Clark and executive vice presidential candidate Ted Costigan were both cleared of campaign charges by the Joint Elections Committee Tuesday night, and both candidates will participate in to this week’s runoff election as originally planned.

Clark was acquitted of a charge alleging he sent out a campaign email prior to the start of the official campaign period. The JEC also unanimously found Clark not guilty of having palm cards taped in various places in Madison Hall. According to election rules, no poster may be hung inside a residence hall unless it is on a dorm room door or inside the room itself.

The Clark campaign said they did not  dorm storm – an event where candidates are permitted to go through the residence halls to campaign – this year. Clark added that if his team did dorm storm, Madison Hall would be not have been their first choice of halls to visit or poster.

“The violations were misguided and overblown,” Clark said. “I appreciate the JEC and their understanding of the situation. I look forward to this week’s campaign election and look forward to having the opportunity in serving the student body next year.”

Clark, who received 26.53 percent of the vote in the general election, will face off against John Richardson for the Student Association presidency in Wednesday and Thursday’s runoff elections. Richardson garnered 25.02 percent of the vote.

EVP hopeful Ted Costigan was acquitted on all eight charges levied against him.

The JEC found Costigan not guilty for having a poster hung on a wall in Thurston Hall, for hanging a poster on the Clock Tower on the Mount Vernon Campus, and for distributing palm cards outside the designated campaigning zones.

Additionally, Costigan was acquitted of all charges made against him for disrupting University functions during a rally outside Gelman Library March 7 to protest student printing costs. Costigan also did not receive any violations for his involvement in a Facebook event to promote the rally.

Costigan was further found not guilty of interrupting a Pi Kappa Phi chapter meeting. He will go up against EVP rival Amanda Galonek in the runoff election.

Both candidates already received violations two weeks ago for postering on the walls adjacent to the entrance of Ross Hall. Clark received two and Costigan received one, based on the number of posters hanging on the building’s walls.

It takes six penalties to be removed from the ballot. Penalties are assessed based on the number of violations a candidate is convicted of.

“We’ve been committed to running a campaign while my opponents have come up with charges against me instead,” Costigan said. “I’m going to be out there again, fighting hard for every vote.”

Newly-elected SA Sen. Nick Koeniger, SoB-U, received two violations for distributing palm cards at the entrance of Duques Hall and in the buildings’ study rooms.  Candidates are restricted to specific zones on election day marked by campaign tape.

The JEC also gave one violation to Senator-elect Elizabeth Kennedy, ESIA-U, for creating a public event on Facebook. The committee’s charter notes that Facebook events must be closed and that only the candidate may invite people to attend.

Runoff election voting will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

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