March 6, 2001

Student Assembly Candidate Profiles

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Elections begin today for the 2000-2001 Student Assembly, University Assembly and Student-elected Trustee.

Representatives serve for one year, and the Student-elected Trustee’s tenure is two years. This year, 37 candidates are running for 19 seats on the Student Assembly. There are four seats available for undesignated-at-large, two seats for minority liaison-at-large, one seat for international liaison-at-large, one seat for lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/questioning, two seats for Agriculture and Life Sciences, one seat for Architecture, Art and Planning, three seats for Arts and Sciences, two seats for Engineering, one seat for Human Ecology, one seat for Hotel Administration and one seat for Industrial and Labor Relations.

Five candidates are running for Student-elected Trustee. The four candidates for University Assembly will all receive seats, as there are four available.

A hot topic for this year’s election is the Student Activity Fee (SAF), which will be set and allocated by next year’s Assembly.

And now, without further ado, the candidates for Student Assembly …


(7 candidates, 4 seats)

Uzo Asonye ’02 served as S.A. president this past year, and “tried to move us past the disorder and eternal bickering that was ever-present last year … I really pride myself on moving the S.A. forward as a body.” He added, “Leading the S.A. is like herding a bunch of cats — you can’t tell them what to do,” but you can lead them, he said. If elected to the S.A. next year, Asonye would like to create and oversee a smoother SAF process and improve committees of the S.A. by getting more students involved and encouraging non-S.A. members to chair the committees. He is also involved in the Big Red Marching Band and Pep Band and the Cornell Democrats.

Ray Beninato ’03 served on the S.A. Appropriations Committee last year. “I have extensive knowledge of budgets and the SAF process which will be key during this funding year,” Beninato said. He is an economics and history major. Beninato advocates Dining Dollars options for Sheldon Court and Cascadilla Hall residents, as well as stabilizing the SAF.

Noah Doyle ’03 transferred to Cornell this year from Binghamton University, where he was a member of the Judicial Board and gained exposure to some of the same issues Cornell faces, he said. He is a member of several by-line funded groups, such as the Chamber Orchestra, and realizes why funding for campus organizations is important. He used his first semester here as a “listening semester” and also got involved in flag football and the Cornell Entrepreneur Organization. His platform is based on policy and making sure money gets to the groups quickly and efficiently. He wants to protect Greek autonomy, citing the decline of Dartmouth’s Greek system, and plans to “get as many people involved as possible,” in making S.A. decisions.

Ryan M. Horn ’02 is a government major in the College of Arts and Sciences. As President of the Literary Society of Cornell and a member of various other campus organizations, he wants to work with a diverse group of students toward a common goal and to reach out to more students, showing that the S.A. can be effective. His two areas of focus are dining, where he wants to allow higher caps on meal equivalencies and allow equivalencies for all cash-op meals; and quality of life issues, such as shoveled walkways and higher-pressure shower heads. “I think it’s inhumane to expect people to be able to wash out shampoo with such little water pressure,” Horn said.

Umair Khan ’03 has learned “the importance of compromise and flexibility in serving the needs of a diverse audience” through his work as Social Chair of his fraternity. He has worked with the Provost for Minority Affairs, as well as the International Programming Board, and wants to listen to the concerns and comments of his constituents and voice their views to the Assembly, he said. His goals include increasing funding for student groups, establishing a meal plan to accommodate students who are pledging the Greek system, and working to improve the University’s environmental policy.

Tom Mendez ’03 served on the S.A. this year as minority liaison and Vice President of Internal Operations, where he staffed committees and kept them up to date. He says his most important accomplishment was building a relationship with the administration. “That’s priceless” he said, because it is much easier for him to approach the administration now. As a member of the appropriations committee, he “knows the ins and outs” of the process. Mendez is a strong advocate of giving student groups the funding they need and listening to their requests. “They know how much they need, and not us,” he said.

Lindsay Patross ’02 has gained listening skills, leadership ability and experience in being well-prepared as Vice President of Programming for the Cornell Entrepreneur Organization, volunteering with OnSite and being Student Council President in high school. She plans to work on funding for student groups and cohesion among students through places where they can interact, such as the gym and coffeehouses. “There’s no reason the gym should close at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night if people want to be there,” she said. She’d also like the S.A. to make themselves known to the students and to work efficiently. “Communication definitely needs to be stepped up,” Patross said.

Agriculture and Life Sciences

(6 candidates, 2 seats)

Cecilia Dobbs ’02 experienced the other side of SAF allocation last year as co-chair of the Orientation Steering Committee, when she waited beside other groups for three hours, only to have her group’s hearing postponed until the following week. “The Student Assembly needs to respect the fact that students invest large amounts of their time and energy making these organizations successful. They should not have to beg the S.A. for funding and defend their organizations’ worth,” she said. Dobbs wants the S.A. to collect statements from by-line funded organizations, so the S.A. can deal with controversial allocations at a separate meeting. The Assembly should also seek input “from the student body at large” when deciding funding priorities. She would also like Ag students to have a double-major option, and thinks distribution requirements should not count toward outside credit.

Ari Tivon Epstein ’04 worked on Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign and has attained “general group-working skills.” He advocates extending the way endowed credits can be used, saying the current system prevents students in the statutory colleges from getting a liberal arts education. He would like for students in CALS to have the option to double major in an endowed college, and wishes to reform the pre-enrollment system for Ag school freshmen. Epstein also wants Cornell to comply with the Kyoto Now program by reducing energy waste. Looking back on last semester’s bias-related incidents, Epstein says it is not only important to denounce such acts, but that it is “equally important to stress the positive aspects of diversity” through programming and publicity of cultural events.

Adam Fox ’04 ran for the New Student Representative At-large seat last semester. Through his experience, he said was able to look at what’s wrong with Cornell. Specifically, for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, he aims to work on academic and environmental issues. He would like to use CALS as a “vehicle” for biodegradable packaging in the dining halls, as he worked with the S.A. Dining Committee briefly on the issue last semester. Fox also would like to work out “some type of conversion system” so that students in the statutory schools will not have to use up their endowed credits to fill distribution requirements, and he advo
cates a choice of science class rather than mandatory biology for Communications and ARME majors, since many students “simply don’t want to be there” and would benefit more from taking a class that suits their interests.

Gregg Kligman ’03 has learned about compromise, responsibility and being open to suggestion, through his involvement in other activities at Cornell. “You need to listen to those who voted you into office and voice their opinions as well as your own,” he said. Kligman’s focus if elected will be increasing student-faculty relationships, increasing security and lighting on campus, reducing the gym membership fee, and protecting the current Greek community. “With approximately 40 percent of the student body Greek, we can not afford to tolerate the criticism it receives without also being praised for what it gives back,” he said. He’d like a greater staff to student ratio in the Ag school. “I am running as a concerned Cornellian, not someone with a political agenda,” Kligman said.

Marc Waase ’02 is a member of the Cornell Presidential Research Scholars Student Advisory Board, where he has organized programs for students, such as a colloquium for freshmen involving weekly talks from faculty members. His main goal, if elected, is to work with the Student Activity Fee and make the allocation process easier for the groups involved. Waase would also like to bring back the option for students in the Ag school to double major within the college. He thinks distribution requirements should not count toward the outside-college credit. Waase also advocates for special programs raising awareness about hate crimes, in addition to increased campus security.

Jordan Brown ’03 could not be reached for comment.

Arts and Sciences (7 candidates, 3 seats)

Daniel Braun ’04 is a government major who wants to ensure better integration of freshmen and sophomores into Cornell life. He also aims to “help introduce a program for more meaningful student feedback for courses” and calls for clarity in grading in the College of Arts and Sciences. He advocates finding alternate sources of funding for student groups, as opposed to raising the SAF, in order to ease the financial burden on Cornell students.

Joseph Mamounas ’04, a biology major, wants to “improve the overall quality of life of all students.” Specifically, he’d like to improve meal plans, making meal-plan available at Temple of Zeus; get cheaper Internet access; and “make West campus dorms more comfortable for upperclassmen.”

Steve Tulgan ’03 is an economics major who ran for the S.A. last spring after attending Rutgers University during his first semester. If elected, he’d like to work on the funding for different groups, program houses, and racial issues, such as how the University handled recent events. He would like to see more funding given to groups that do more for the University as a whole, and wants the University to “loosen its grip” on Greek parties. Many of his ideas come from his experience at Rutgers, such as Add/Drop Online and the free newspaper program. Tulgan wants to increase Blue Light buses, especially on the weekends, and advocates greater understanding of racial differences.

Mark Greenbaum ’02 was the S.A. Executive Vice President this past year. He proposed resolutions to resolve the issue of temporary housing and to disperse more information on campus about bias-related incidents, in addition to improving lighting. He said his big issues were vying for a uniform program of testing for teaching assistants, saying that the current test has no speaking component. Greenbaum also wants student representation on search committees for new deans. He added that the Arts and Sciences Career Center is “in dire need of being fixed.” He said that he and Asonye are looking for ways to establish an endowment for the Student Assembly Finance Commission, so it would always be funded. “Money is the most important thing there is for campus organizations,” he added, calling it the most important component of the S.A.

Joshua Roth ’03 has served on the S.A. appropriations committee for two years, which allocates funds from the Student Activity Fee. Among other goals, he wishes to work to improve the college’s Career Services Center. He also supports program and Greek houses, as well as Course Exchange and Add/Drop Online. Roth wants to see generous SAF funding for all student organizations. Additionally, he would like Cornell to abide by high labor and environmental standards, to pay a livable wage to workers and increase paper recycling on campus.

Mike Sellman ’04 was a New Student Representative At-large on this year’s Assembly and is a member of the Business Leadership Council and Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. He would like to improve career services, and he believes “improved communication is critical to the Career Service Center’s success.” He thinks that “better dissemination” of career events will more effectively meet the needs of students and help them better appreciate the Center.

Sean Lynch ’04 could not be reached for comment.

(2 candidates, 1 seat)

Johann Chau ’02 last year dubbed himself “Cash-Op Johann.” In Spring 1999, he collected 1,000 signatures in three days in order to pressure Cornell Dining to retain the cash-op option in its meal plan. He is not a fan of campus politics, and instead he said, “I am running on a pro-Human Ecology platform.” Chau is also concerned with funding: “I would like to make sure that all the groups are adequately funded,” citing the Women’s Resource Center and Cornell Cinema as two of his main concerns.

Ben Solomon ’03 is a policy analysis and management major. He said “as issues arise, I will have my finger on the pulse of [Human Ecology] students. Always keeping an ear to my constituency.” Among other plans, he advocates expanding the Blue Light bus service, designating a student seat on the TCAT Board and improving funding for important student organizations. Solomon is involved in the Cornell Model United Nations Club and the Undergraduate Consulting Club.

Minority Liaison-at-Large (3 candidates, 2 seats)

Joan Luu ’02 has experience in minority representation through the Chinese Student Association. Last semester, while participating in a for-credit internship with the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Luu networked with Cornell students in Ithaca to learn about how bias-related incidents affected the campus climate. “I would want the administration to deal more with the bias-related incidents last semester,” she said, adding “I want to make this sort of topic accepted and publicized so more people talk about it.” Luu plans to focus on campus safety and the continuation of program houses as freshmen move to North Campus.

Funa Maduka ’04 is the president of the NAACP Cornell Chapter, and has served on both the Faculty Senate Committee on Minority Affairs — where she worked on recruitment and campus climate within the classroom — and the Residential Life Committee. She wants to fund the Africana Studies and Research Center and increase funding to the Women’s Resource Center. “They’re in dire need of it right now,” Maduka said. She thinks the SAF is an indirect way to “educate the community as a whole through different minority organizations on campus.” She also expressed her desire to preserve the LGBTQ and international seats on the Assembly. As for her own position, she thinks it’s “important that someone is elected to the seat who believes in the seat, who realizes the potential of the seat, and realizes the importance of the voice of the constituency he or she is representing.”

Courtney Tawresey ’03 is a government major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She said she aims to “represent my constituents responsibly and accurately.” She wants to work on the fundin
g of student organizations, as well as on the increase of campus security and making meal plans more flexible. As for the Student Activity Fee, she wants to “focus on where the community as a whole could benefit from spending,” and she supports lowering the SAF. To the criticism on her candidacy for the minority seat while not herself a racial minority, Tawresey countered, “I feel it is time for Cornell students to unite and share in diversity that is present in every person on this campus.” She belongs to such campus organizations as Women’s Varsity Swimming, Arts and Sciences Ambassadors and the Literary Society of Cornell.

International Liaison At-Large (2 candidates, 1 seat)

P.K. Agarwalla ’04 cites his experience as a New Student Representative At-large on this year’s Assembly was a way that he has established “working relationships” with the directors of dining and Campus Life, the Dean of Faculty, the University Registrar, and the overall administration, helping to extend West campus dining hours. If elected, he’d like to improve financial aid for international students. Agarwalla plans to hold informal meetings in the Holland International Living Center, “to listen to the concerns of the international community on campus.” He will seek to expand spring break by an extra day, and thinks that no student should have three or four evening prelims in one week.

Michael J. Matly ’03 is the founder and president of the Bioethcial Society of Cornell. He explained how he built the group from five members to a listserve of 400. Matly would like to create an international forum where students can come and share issues, as well as ensure good funding for program houses and international organizations. He wants to change international students’ feeling that they have no voice. He promises to be a strong voice to the administration, “pushing” for greater financial aid for international students. “I am not going to the S.A. to push for my concerns,” he said, explaining that he would hold weekly office hours to hear from his constituency. “I really want to make in international voice,” he said.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) (1 candidate, 1 seat)

Joelle Meniktos-Nolting ’04, a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, has high school experience with gay rights activism. “I think it’s really important for me to be accessible to … the gay community,” she said, noting her interest to hold “office hours” in the LGBTQ Resource Center, as well as the Office of Assemblies, “because I represent all students … not just the gay community,” she said. Here at Cornell, she is active in Direct Action to Stop Homophobia (DASH), the United Progressives and the Cornell Greens. Meniktos-Nolting advocates funding for the Africana Studies and Research Center and the Cornell Women’s Resource Center, as well as prevention of bias-motivated violence, through improved campus lighting.

Industrial and Labor Relations (2 candidates, 1 seat)

Michael Moschella ’02 has garnered “the skills to listen to concerns and take action to produce positive results” through his experience as president of the Cornell Democrats, as a Resident Advisor, and as treasurer of the Coalition for the Homeless. He served as ILR representative two Assemblies ago, chairing the Joint Assemblies Financial Aid Review Committee, and serving as liaison to the Employee Assembly. “ILR students only get one representative, so that person has to be a clear and active voice for our concerns. I have done this before and will continue to do so,” Moschella said. Specifically, he says he maintained contact with leaders and members of all ILR student groups last year, and will continue to do so.

Dave Carlucci ’02 sat on this year’s S.A. as New Student Representative At-large. If elected, he would like to work on “solidarity” in the Assembly, and “trying to work with people.” Carlucci said he would work the hardest to get Labor Day off, because it is important to ILR students. “ILR is the number one priority,” he said. “It’s really whatever the ILR people want,” he added. “That’s what I’m behind.” He is in favor of giving groups funding, but not for raising the SAF. He wants to publicize activities so people will know how to get involved. Carlucci is the social chair of his fraternity.

Engineering (5 candidates, 2 seats)

Thomas Leung ’02, a civil and environmental engineering major, lists beautification of the engineering quad and reducing Cornell pollution among his initiatives. He wants Cornell to follow along with the Kyoto Now plan and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will push to see buildings such as Hollister and Carpenter Halls undergo renovations, instead of the campus store. He is “very concerned” about funding for student organizations. “I think information is key and people like to feel involved,” he said, citing his “grassroots” campaign as an example. Leung is a founder and president of Turn Left, a progressive newspaper on campus, and was the Students for Hillary Chair last semester with the Cornell Democrats.

Abeezer Tapia ’02 is involved in many engineering organizations. He is the general director of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, which makes him “responsible for organizing and hosting company information sessions for corporations interested in hiring Cornell students.” If elected to the S.A., he hopes to work closely with the Engineering Student Leadership Council to gain feedback from all the engineering organizations. He wants simple conveniences for engineering students, such as copy machines and payphones in all their buildings. As a member of the S.A. Information Technologies Committee, he has worked with Cornell Information Technologies “to provide students a more efficient and less frustrating CoursEnroll experience,” Tapia said, adding that he has also provided feedback for online Add/Drop.

Marshall B. Montgomery ’04 has a pragmatic approach toward elections. “I’m trying to stick to issues I know the S.A. has power with,” he said, specifying the S.A.’s work on setting the Student Activity Fee next semester. He explained that, unlike many of his competitors, he is not advocating for an eatery in the Engineering Quad because it is unfeasible. Montgomery works at Robert Purcell Dining and hosts students for the Red Carpet Society. If elected, he will try to minimize the inconvenience to students during the construction of Duffield Hall. He also advocates eliminating University censorship of newsgroups, saying that some newsgroups are not available through Cornell Information Technologies, even though Cornell students pay for technology.

Mike Schmidt ’04 is an electrical engineering major, and a self-described “hard-working Cornell engineer.” He wants to “work on protecting the privacy of Cornell Internet users” and reduce the cost of Internet access on campus. Schmidt is not in favor of raising the SAF, saying that groups that clearly outline and stick to how they will utilize the funding should get more of it.

Jonathan Ludwig ’03 could not be reached for comment.

Architecture, Art and Planning (1 candidate, 1 seat)

Michael Wacht ’02 is the incumbent for this seat and is running uncontested. He is an architecture student and has served as S.A. Chair of the Joint Assemblies Financial Aid Review Committee which is in charge of financial aid issues. He is currently the liaison to the Provost and is also involved in Students Helping Students, an emergency fund for Cornellians that isn’t currently funded, a situation to which he would like to remedy next year. Wacht hopes “to be just completely impartial and open next year,” in the SAF allocation process.

Hotel Administration (1 candidate, 1 seat)

Esther Tang ’04 has served as a New Student Representative At-large for th
e past year, working to improve dorm conditions and safety. She prides herself on building trust and valuable relationships with staff members and administrators. She conducted a survey of students for a staff member to find out what new paint color the students would like in the dorm rooms, and plans to propose a resolution to raise the handrails on the Thurston Ave. bridge, after students complained that they felt unsafe. In the School of Hotel Administration, she plans to alter the faculty advisor system so that a freshman’s advisor will be one of their professors that year, and will continue holding “Esther hours” in RPCC to hear from Hotel students and give them weekly updates.

-Matthew Hirsch, Veronika Belenkaya, Jennifer Gardner, Stacy Pace, Sarah Willey and Liz Novak contributed to this article.

Archived article by Heather Schroeder