Editor’s note: At the request of Erika Feinman, whose identity is queer, gender non-binary, this article does not use courtesy titles in second references to the new SA president.
George Washington University students elected junior Erika Feinman as the new Student Association president in voting last Wednesday and Thursday.
Feinman, a women’s studies and political science double major in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, is the first queer, gender-non-binary student to be elected SA president.
Feinman won 53.6 percent of the vote.
“My opponent ran an amazing and very competitive campaign, and my team and I weren’t really sure which way the election would go,” Feinman said. “I think that my platform—student representation—really resonated with students, and I hope we can continue to work on issues that students feel passionately about.”
Feinman will serve alongside veteran SA leader and junior Thomas Falcigno, who ran unopposed. Mr. Falcigno was sworn in as executive vice president-elect on March 7.
More than 4,000 students cast votes, according to the GW Joint Elections Committee. Voting was down from the 2015 election’s record-high participation of 5,456 voters.
Feinman hopes to continue to prioritize student voices during the presidential tenure through flagship campaign issues, including the development of a comprehensive wellness resource database for students and support for internship opportunities. Feinman also hopes to include student representation on the GW Board of Trustees.
“I believe that the best way to hold this office is to be as grounded as possible, keep your ear to the ground and remember that this position is about student representation,” Feinman said. “I want students to feel like they can come to the SA with their questions, problems and ideas. I am here to listen.”
GW junior Thomas Falcigno was sworn in as executive vice president-elect on March 7. (Rob Stewart/GW Today)
Despite only a year in the SA serving as a senator on the Student Life Committee, Feinman is confident about turning limited experience into an asset with help from Mr. Falcigno and GW students.
“I think that I bring a fresh perspective because I’ve been able to seek out so many opportunities during my time at GW, whether serving as co-leader of the Feminist Student Union or participating in alternative breaks,” Feinman said. “I think my experiences helped people to understand that I’m trying to bring as many voices to the table as possible.”
Mr. Falcigno’s three years of SA Senate experience also will also be an asset to Feinman in navigating the SA. Both students share a passion for keeping the SA mission focused on serving students’ interests.
“I have worked hard to build relationships with student organizations and groups at the university so that my ideas represent their concerns,” Mr. Falcigno said. “You can see when you hit on things that students care about like diversity and fair funding though the SA or my proposed ‘Freshman Forgiveness’ plan to allow a student to retake one course from their first year.”
Mr. Falcigno credits his time on the SA for developing his personal leadership skills and teaching him to collaborate with “36 senators and a handful of committees.” He hopes to one day return to his home state of Connecticut and run for Congress.
The political science, journalism and mass communication major said that the secret to achievement with the SA is planning, collaborating and listening.
“I think to be successful as an SA leader you don’t take yourself too seriously, but you take the work incredible seriously,” Mr. Falcigno said. “I’m looking forward to balancing my new responsibilities and working with the new president to create a timeline that works best for our proposals.”