April 25, 2001

Student Assembly Elects Its Officers

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In contrast to the scene of protesters a week ago, Day Hall was almost completely quiet and empty last night.

But in a lone conference room, next year’s Student Assembly representatives convened for internal elections to select their officers. They emerged after three hours with the results.

Uzo Asonye ’02 won a second term as S.A. president, while current Executive Vice President Mark Greenbaum ’02 was also re-elected. Michael Sellman ’04 secured the position of vice president of internal operations and Michael Moschella ’02 will serve as vice president of finance. Greenbaum will also occupy the position of director of elections.

P.K. Agarwalla ’04 won the most contested election — a four-way race for vice president of public relations. Agarwalla said he wants to let the students “know that we’re out there for them,” and “make the students and everyone in general understand that the Student Assembly is the representative body of the students — helping students effectively and accurately.” He plans to accomplish this through holding forums and keeping in contact with student leaders.

Asonye is excited about his second term.

“I know it’s a lot of work, so my outlook for next year is a lot more practical,” he said.

He plans to give the S.A. committees a bigger role, such as requiring committee support for legislation before the Assembly will consider it.

“This would really strengthen the voice of committee members,” Asonye said.

He also wants to focus on community outreach. One possibility he offered would be holding some S.A. meetings at Robert Purcell Community Center.

A major responsibility for the Assembly next year will be setting the Student Activity Fee. Asonye expects it to be a “smooth” procedure.

“The process will make the Cornell community very proud,” Asonye said. “I wanted to make sure in my final year that it’s a process that’s friendly to students.”

The elections were held yesterday to allow the officers-elect time to learn their responsibilities from this year’s outgoing officers. For many of the officers-elect, there isn’t much they don’t already know about their positions.

“Uzo and I have learned so much this year — I think we can turn it into more progress and more growth next year,” Greenbaum said.

“I feel like I really got comfortable — [I] really understand the job a lot [more now],” Asonye said. “[I knew that] transforming the Assembly to the body it should be, and I wanted it to be, would take more than a year, and this is the second half of that process.”

“We lost a lot of credibility last year [1999-2000],” Greenbaum said. “We’re bringing the credibility back; we’re bringing it back slowly. I think we can go even further … with this E [executive] board and this group.”

Greenbaum’s ideas for next year include continuing efforts to establish student representation on dean search committees, as well as working with Campus Life to reform the housing lottery system.

Many representatives were impressed by the speed and courtesy that characterized this year’s internal elections.

“I think it reflects the type of body we have that last year’s internals [elections] lasted eight hours” while this year’s process was much shorter, Greenbaum said. The elections process consisted of open nominations, followed by candidate speeches and question-and-answer periods. The candidates would leave the room as the other members debated and voted by secret ballot, requiring a two-thirds margin to win.

“It went pretty smoothly, I thought. It was very civil,” said David Mahon ’01, current director of elections. “Overall it was a lot less divisive than it was last year.”

Asonye added, “It usually takes a summer for some people to get over it.”

However, both Asonye and Greenbaum expressed optimism for next fall.

“Bottom down, this E board is just as good if not better than the one we have now,” Greenbaum said. “There’s so many creative ideas, just from every member.”

Sellman said the leadership of this year’s officers influenced his decision to run for an internal office. Searching for a metaphor, he added, “I feel like I have a pallette of paints and an empty canvas, and the S.A. are my fellow artists.”

“It seems like a very cohesive, listening group next year,” said Michael Wacht ’02, College of Architecture, Art and Planning representative. He contested the positions of president and vice president of public relations.

The new Assembly will take office June 1, and serve through the spring 2002 semester.

“It’s amazing how much we can do next year. I can’t wait to get started,” Greenbaum said.

Archived article by Heather Schroeder