Jung Won Kim ‘18, newly elected Student Assembly president, discussed his winning electoral strategy and vision to transform the S.A. into a results-based organization during an interview with The Sun on Wednesday.
Despite receiving limited support from the “Cornell establishment,” Kim explained that he was able to secure the electoral victory by mobilizing previously neglected voter bases.
“I would consider myself an outsider,” Kim said. “I [have] not served on the [S.A.] executive committee, nor was I well connected with influential people on campus compared to other candidates … but all these clubs and communities that S.A. never reached out to believe in me, and that’s what got me in.”
While Kim did not deny that he appealed to the identity of Asian students, international students and other groups to garner support, he said that he is confident that this will not prevent him from representing the interest of all students.
“Communities support who best represent them, there’s nothing wrong with that. If I am part of the Greek system, the Asian community, they will obviously support me,” Kim said. “That said, S.A. president isn’t just there to represent just one group; the policy I bring will benefit all groups on campus.”
Kim also said his victory could reflect popular discontent among students regarding the competence of the S.A.
“One thing that resonated with the student body: nothing gets done [in the S.A.]. We make Columbus day, Indigenous People’s day, last time I checked it’s not on the calendar. Asian American Major got passed and people celebrated. Where is it now? There is no progress,” Kim said.
Unlike other members of the S.A., Kim said he has a reputation for delivering tangible results to students instead of “just signing a piece of paper.” This reputation, Kim claimed, was his greatest appeal as a presidential candidate.
“A lot of representatives run on platforms that are very vague. ‘I am gonna put students on the table, I’m gonna increase transparency,’ and so on. What does that even mean? It’s not a real project,” Kim said. “The only difference between me and other representatives … was that I constantly followed up and I actually … got things done.”
Kim said that his presidency will reform the S.A. from an organization that proliferates resolutions to one that makes concrete change.
“We are not a body that just passes resolutions,” he said. “We are a body that can, and should, get things done. I want representatives to stick to one or two policies. If 27 representatives successfully implement two policies rather than 50 that get nowhere, that’s a tremendous boon for students.”
Kim also plans to address the Asian and Greek communities which, despite having a significant campus presence, are underrepresented in the S.A.
“Asians make roughly 20 percent of the school, Greeks make a third of a school, but they aren’t the groups most engaged with the S.A,” he said. “What it takes is outreach, letting these groups know what the S.A. can do for them.”
Kim’s administration hopes to bring meaningful change for international students as well.
“I advocate very fiercely for bringing back need-blind admission for [international] students and establishing the International Student Resource Center, an initiative I will be working on personally,” Kim said.
At the end of his presidency, Kim said he wants to leave behind a “results-based S.A.”
“The legacy I want to leave is that the S.A. actually got things done. Students gained things tangible that they could derive benefits from. I want the S.A. to become, not just something for the resume, but a tool student leaders can use to get practical results.”