This week, both undergraduate and graduate students will vote to elect a trustee from the graduate and professional student community. This trustee will be responsible for not only representing graduate and professional students, but also for weighing in on broad policies pursued by the Board of Trustees. Over his five years in student governance, Darrick Nighthawk Evensen grad has demonstrated that he is the best candidate for the position.
Evensen has the experience working in student governance to understand the issues that not only affect the graduate and professional student community, but also the Cornell community as a whole. Evensen served on the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly from 2007 to 2010, giving him an intimate understanding of graduate student issues. He served as president of that body from 2009 to 2010, when he was elected to his first term as a student trustee.
He has rightly identified graduate student housing and the cohesiveness of a community with 93 fields of graduate study and three professional schools as the main issues that will continue to affect graduate and professional students in the future. His experience working with the Cornell administration and students makes him the most capable candidate to tackle these substantial challenges.
Beyond the issues that affect the graduate and professional student community, Evensen has worked to address challenges that affect the broader community. For example, Evensen is one of two students on the University Gorge Safety committee, which is working to implement the recommendations made by President David Skorton to enhance the safety of the gorges. Doing so shows a willingness to represent the interests of the broader community, which is absolutely essential for a University trustee.
Additionally, Evensen has put forward the most comprehensive platform of the two candidates. His platform shows a willingness to think beyond the graduate community. His platform touches on points ranging from the state of Collegetown to boosting diversity on campus to gorge safety initiatives. The comprehensiveness of his platform and the ease with which he can discuss these disparate topics demonstrates his broad knowledge of the issues that affect all Cornellians.
We hope that in a second term, Evansen will be able to build on his weaknesses and take strong stances that may be in opposition to the views of the Board. When asked to name a decision that the Board of Trustees made that he disagreed with, Evensen only said that there must be more transparency in committee meeting and that more student input must be garnered to give the proposals legitimacy. This response indicates an inclination to go along with the majority opinion of the Board. We hope that, if reelected, Evensen will not simply follow the majority, but will publicly take stances that members of the Board may disagree with.
Despite our reservations, we believe that Evensen will not shy away from ensuring that all constituencies and concerns are represented at Board of Trustees meetings. He has the knowledge of the workings of the University that will allow him to succeed in a second term.