With 4,130 ballots cast, Student Assembly election results are in.
Jung Won Kim ’18 will be the next president of the Student Assembly, winning by a margin of just over 100 votes over his opponent, Matthew Indimine ’18. Varun Devatha ’19 won the position of executive vice president over Mayra Valadez ’18 by 550 votes.
Kim, who has served the previous two years on S.A., admitted that the win was not wholly expected.
“I don’t think a lot of people expected me to do too well at the beginning, but my friends gave me their full support and we all gave 110 percent,” he said.
Speaking from experience, Kim centered his campaign on “equity for students” and “financial transparency,” and said that one of his primary objectives is to improve the relationship between the S.A. and administration.
“A lot of our prior representatives have histories of passing tons of resolutions,” he said. “They sound great … it gets passed, people celebrate, the University president approves it, but after a month or so, or after a few weeks, you check back and nothing happens.”
To Kim, following up with administration and holding them accountable for upholding S.A. resolutions is key.
“Currently, the S.A. and the administration do not have the friendliest and most trusting relationship,” he said. “I have experience working with resolutions as well as with administration, and those are very positive qualities that I think the S.A. needs right now.”
Kim also emphasized the importance of representing all communities in student government, and he spoke from personal experience in regards to his own underrepresented identity.
“I’m Asian, I’m a non-U.S. citizen, I represent groups I think that, have traditionally not been very engaged in the assembly,” he said. “I think this is a personal opportunity to bridge that gap, and that will be my priority as S.A. president.”
According to Kim, administrative engagement isn’t the only problematic relationship concerning the S.A. — the assembly also has a hard time engaging with students.
“The S.A. has historically been very, very bad with engagement, and that’s because an S.A. meeting … becomes opinionated members bickering over resolutions, and there are other resolutions that we don’t even know when we’re talking about,” he said.
As a solution, Kim hopes to propose town hall meetings, where S.A. members brief community members on what occurred in the Student Assembly meeting for that week. He added that communication across constituents, administration and the S.A. would be a primary focus during his time as president.
“I have experience working with resolutions as well as with administration, and those are very positive qualities that I think the S.A. needs right now,” he said.
Devatha furthered that message of connecting communities to the S.A. with his objectives of connecting communities “find intersectionality” between them.
As an example, the future S.A. executive vice president cited the Big Red Shuttle, which is currently funded through the Women’s Resource Center and Panhellenic Council and is commonly misunderstood as only being available to women.
“There’s an enormous amount of resources and organizations on campus, and I think my greatest issue will be communicating effectively with each and every one of those,” he said. “However the best way to combat that or the best way to engage with that is ensuring that representatives understand who their constituents are, and creating those lists of organizations that the representatives can reach out to so that us on the exec board can better understand the nitty gritty for what’s going down for each community.”
Gabe Kaufman ’18 — elected as an undesignated at-large S.A. representative — will serve on the assembly for the fourth year in a row and will hold the longest S.A. tenure on the upcoming assembly.
“Broadly speaking, the two areas that I hope to focus on next year are byline funding and campus judicial system,” he said. “That’s where I think I can make the most impact, and that’s where I think that I’ve historically made my impact as well.”
Speaking to the byline funding, which is funding designated by the S.A. to campus organizations, Kaufman said the policies need to be “seriously reviewed.”
“I ran with the explicit purpose of making sure that the student activity fee is allocated in a just way and also in an efficient way,” he said.
Kaufman also cited his previous support behind legislation allowing students to protest freely on Ho Plaza between noon and 1 p.m. and said he hoped to further such actions in favor of free speech.
“I’ve been serving as the chair of the U.A., and I’m going to seek reappointment from the S.A. to the U.A. to continue to uphold the campus code of conduct and to protect students’ rights to demonstrate freely,” he said. “I think that’s something very important, and it’s something I have done — and will do — my best to fight for.”
Current University Assembly representative Sarah Park ’20 looks forward to her appointment to the position of women’s liaison on the S.A., pledging to focus on health and safety in the upcoming year.
“I want to focus a lot on women’s safety on campus,” she said. “I think we’ve done great things this year with free the tampon, but I think I want to focus on making Cornell health more accessible and improving safety in terms of blue lights on campus.”
TJ Ball ’19, newly elected undesignated at-large representative, emphasized the importance of collaborating with other campus groups and advancing Cornell’s sustainability measures.
“The biggest thing is going to be working with the Cornell community to see what they really want,” he said. “I think the Student Assembly, as a bridge to the administration, can make it possible for student organizations to really help the global community address climate change issues.”
Ball also commented on his intention of following up with administration once S.A. resolutions are passed.
“I think one big challenge that the Student Assembly needs to overcome is making sure that resolutions passed by the Student Assembly are, in fact, acted upon by the administration,” he said. “I know I’m really going to be committed with following up with the administration constantly, and being persistent in my attempt to have our student voices be heard by administration.”
The full list of winners is as follows:
President of the Student Assembly: Jung Won Kim ’18
Executive Vice President of the Student Assembly: Varun Devatha ’19
Undesignated At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Gabe Kaufman ’18
Undesignated At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Matthew Indimine ’18
Undesignated At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Mayra Valadez ’18
Undesignated At-Large Student Assembly Representative: TJ Ball ’19
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Student Assembly Representative: Jesse Pollard ’18
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Student Assembly Representative: Renee Morris ’18
College of Arts & Sciences Student Assembly Representative: Dara Tokunboh ’19
College of Arts & Sciences Student Assembly Representative: Evan Shapiro ’19
College of Arts & Sciences Student Assembly Representative: Olivia Corn ’19
College of Engineering Student Assembly Representative: Dale Barbaria ’19
College of Engineering Student Assembly Representative: Rebecca Herz ’18
College of Human Ecology Student Assembly Representative: Omar Din ’20
School of Hotel Administration Student Assembly Representative: Lee Lipschutz ’19
School of Industrial & Labor Relations Student Assembly Representative: Samantha Romero Zavala ’19
International Students Liaison At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Christopher Schott ’18
Minority Students Liaison At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Haris Hassan ’19
Minority Students Liaison At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Tristan Magloire ’20
Undergraduate Representative for the University Assembly: Neeraj ‘Naj’ Jaisinghani ’19
Undergraduate Representative for the University Assembly: Joe Anderson ’20
Women’s Liaison At-Large Student Assembly Representative: Sarah Park ’20