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Letter from Undergraduate Senator At-Large

student government


George Washington University


Letter from Undergraduate Senator At-Large

Sen. Joe Vogel submitted this to The Rival

Courtney Buble


The following is a letter from Sen. Joe Vogel to his fellow senators prior to the removal hearing tonight. This does not reflect the views of The Rival as The Rival remains neutral on campus and political issues.


I would like to begin with an apology and a sincere recognition that I made mistakes. Last semester, I lost track of time and lost sight of this responsibility and what it meant to me. There is no excuse for missing committee meetings. I recognize that and deeply regret it. During my three years at GW, I have been a committed member of the Student Association and an active member of the GW community. I have come to love and appreciate all that makes this University and community so great, but have also come to realize where we fall short. The appreciation for GW and the realization we could do better encouraged me to run for the SA. I felt then, as deeply as I do now, that I had the drive, ideas, and experience to help make needed improvements.

I send this email not in an effort to excuse my short fallings, but in an attempt to bring clarity and fairness to this situation. I missed Student Life Committee meetings on 10/19, 10/26, 10/29 and 11/02. Due to scheduling challenges with the committee as a whole, the committee was required to catch up on meetings to satisfy bylaw requirements. As a result, we had three meetings in the span of one week. This happened to be a week that I was out of town, and was therefore unable to attend these meetings. I say this not as an excuse, but to clarify that the absences which led to my suspension were concentrated in one week of the term.

A suspension was warranted per the bylaws of the Student Association. That said, enforcement of the bylaws appears to be flexible depending on the Senator involved. Per the attendance document, there are at least two Senators who have missed more than four committee meetings in a row, yet have not been held accountable per the bylaws. I am not demanding these Senators be held accountable, I am just noting that there is a lack of equity in how bylaws are being enforced.

There is zero precedent for impeachment due to meeting absences. An article by the Hatchet noted how Senators suspended by the Senate for attendance were normally “quickly reinstated.” Last semester, a Senator was suspended for violating attendance requirements for general senate meetings, but was quickly reinstated. I hope that precedent and equity under the bylaws is respected when considering this situation.

I say the following with the utmost respect for the institution and members of the Student Association: it is not surprising but still unfortunate that there are still a select few members of this body who operate based on personal political agendas not all are privy to. I recognize that during my time on the Senate I have not managed to make everyone happy. I have a firm set of beliefs and have strong opinions on a wide set of issues. At times I have held my ground and have spoken up when I witnessed actions and initiatives that I deemed were wrong or not in the best interest of the student body and communities I am a part of. I will not waiver from my beliefs and if reinstated I will continue to voice my opinions and ideas. However, as I have done in the past, I will continue to work to find common ground and collaborate with all Senators to make progress for our student body. I deeply hope that efforts to remove me are not driven by personal political agendas, and are not efforts to silence me for opinions other Senators disagree with.

I spent the first part of this year working with administrators to help resolve challenges students were facing as I became aware of them. For example, at the beginning of the semester upon learning of the serious obstacles that students whose homes were affected by Hurricane Harvey would be facing, I collaborated with administrators and members of the SA to get something done. The SA mid-year report highlights the success of the Hurricane Harvey Response Fundraiser. The report notes:

“In response to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and its immediate impact on GW students, the Student Association launched GW Response, a fundraising campaign through the Ron Howard Assistance Fund that helps students with emergency needs. Through partnering with Class Council and with the support of many other student organizations, we held a two-day campus-wide fundraiser. The campaign generated more than $1,700 for students in need of emergency financial assistance.”

I ran my campaign for this position on an platform of issues that focused around the fact that we could ‘do better.’ We can do better as a University, better as a community, better as a Student Association; but most importantly now, I can and hope to do better as an advocate for my peers. I hope to be reinstated to the Senate, to continue to work on important issues with the goal of making the improvements this University and community deserve.

I am happy to answer any questions or speak to anyone before tonight’s meeting.


Joe Vogel

Undergraduate Senator At-Large

All Student Association members are welcome to share their statements, opinions, and views with The Rival. We encourage all voices to be heard.

Correction: This letter was submitted to The Rival by a source close to Vogel.