February 28, 2001

Trustee Candidates Attend Forum, Sound Off on Issues

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The candidates for student-elected trustee — Ron Zember ’04, Leslie Barkemeyer ’03, Emmanuel Tsourounis II grad, Evan Lupion ’03 and Heather Wynder grad — addressed various University-wide issues yesterday evening in a two-hour forum.

The event started with candidates presenting an opening statement, addressing concerns they would bring to the Board of Trustees if elected on March 6 and 7.

A question-and-answer period followed, where candidates responded to questions concerning the role of student-elected trustees, communication within the community and dilemmas regarding eCornell, the for-profit distance learning corporation that receives University funding.

All candidates were in agreement that more creative ways would be necessary to compensate for the rising tuition.

“The hike in tuition is 4.9 percent to 7 percent greater than the rate of inflation,” Tsourounis said.

Tsourounis said he disapproved of increased tuition until the University forms a proper committee to re-examine rises in tuition.

Lupion and Zember, in addition to tuition issues, were both concerned with on-campus safety.

“Whether the University will accept it or not, students stay out later than 1:50 a.m.,” Lupion said, suggesting that the University needs to re-evaluate its Blue Light Service, which provides escorts for students walking alone on campus.

Zember said he envisions incorporating programs regarding campus safety at the start of each school year during orientation.

If elected, Tsourounis, who has been involved with the Campus Climate Committee, aims to bring the Cornell community together, which he said is split along the lines of racial-ethnic, gender-sexuality and student-faculty-administration differences.

“We have words, mousepads and bookmarks,” Tsourounis said. “But we don’t have programs [promoting a cohesive community atmosphere].”

Tsourounis suggested that University-wide e-mail updates might keep students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels as well as faculty more informed about what is going on in the community and what kinds of things are happening on the Board of Trustees.

Zember’s idea for facilitating communication amongst faculty, staff and students involved a more widely used and recognized television station, as a “fast and easy method.”

“Most students don’t know where to go when they have a problem,” he said.

Barkemeyer also emphasized the importance of community awareness and the necessity for other lines of communication.

“Minority students feel that North Campus is more sympathetic towards ethnic minorities,” said Barkemeyer, who is a member of the Committee of Multi-Cultural Issues. “Administrators need to know this,” she said.

In addition to holding office hours, which all candidates agreed was imperative in keeping in touch with other students, Barkemeyer suggested that the use of a column in The Sun or the use of the a radio station to disseminate feedback. This would be key in promoting awareness of students’ concerns to both staff and the rest of the student body and also keeping everyone posted on what is happening with the Board of Trustees.

Tsourounis and Wynder both addressed how the money made from “distance learning” or eCornell could be a functional solution to dealing with recent tuition hikes.

Wynder defined the role of the student-elected trustee as a position “entrusted” by the students to perform a set of tasks that require setting priorities and dealing with “long-term, broad-ranging” decisions. She discerns these issues as a different responsibilities from what other leadership positions (such as serving on the Student Assembly) demand.

While discussing concerns of academic integrity and copyright issues regarding eCornell, Wynder also said she viewed eCornell as a service that could serve the “community at large” or for anyone who wants to experience an “Ivy League education.”

“All the candidates are really qualified,” said David Mahon ’03, director of elections and student-elected trustee, who was also present at the forum. “The University can’t go wrong by picking any one of them.”

“[The election] is going to be very, very close,” predicts Jennifer Fang ’03, a Student Assembly archivist who was present at the forum. “Unfortunately, people in the past years haven’t been giving the race the importance it’s due.”

The forum was sponsored by The Sun.

Archived article by Janet Liao