March 1, 2001

Attendance Sparse at S.A. Candidate Forum

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Candidates for Student Assembly (S.A.) positions spoke to a very quiet Willard Straight Hall last night. The Candidate Forum, intended to give the Cornell community an opportunity to hear candidates’ platforms, had only four attendees at its high point.

“This meeting really wasn’t that productive,” said Lindsay Patross ’02, who is running for undesignated-at-large. “Nobody showed up!”

The lack of student interest in the elections process and the S.A. in general was a campaign concern for many of the candidates.

“I think we need to look at the way we do elections, the way we do these forums,” said Uzo Asonye ’02, another candidate for an undesignated seat.

Suggestions for an improved process included moving the forums into dorms, throwing a student-wide rally and increasing the intensity and amount of advertising.

“[Cornell students] don’t just have a right to know about the S.A.,” said Jonathan Ludwig ’03, who is running for a College of Engineering seat. “They have a right to have it shoved in their faces.”

David Mahon ’01, the current student elected trustee and facilitator of the forum, did not see a solution to “student apathy” towards the S.A. in the near future.

“It’s not a problem of publicity,” he said. “It a problem of relevance. If the S.A. is not a relevant organization, students will not be interested.”

Another issue of concern to the candidates was the way in which the S.A. is run and appropriates money to student organizations and clubs.

“What I want to stress to my constituents is complete objectivity,” said Jordon Brown, who is running to represent students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). “I don’t think there should be full fledged politics in the S.A.”

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned being on the S.A. is that we don’t have a lot of power,” said Mark Greenbaum ’02, who is running for a College of Arts and Sciences seat. “We’ve got to work on the bread and butter issues that we can do something about.”

Many participants in the forum also hailed Cornell employees’ wages and working conditions as primary concerns. Engineering candidate Mike Schmidt ’04 called for the hiring of union workers on Duffield Hall construction, while Michael Moschella ’02, a student in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, recommended strong S.A. support for the recognition of Labor Day.

“If we’re paying first class tuition at this school there is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be paying first class wages to Cornell workers,” said CALS candidate Ari Tivon Epstein ’04.

Candidates also addressed other issues biodegradable plates in dining halls, lighting on the CALS quad and evening prelims, among several others.

Archived article by April Sommer