March 27, 2002

Student Trustee Candidates Speak at Low-Attended Forum

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The student representatives on the Board of Trustees met yesterday for a question and answer forum in the Big Red Barn to speak to this year’s candidates as well as concerned students.

Two out of eight candidates for the position made it to the forum, Peter Cohl ’04 and Russell Shattan ’04.

Currently there are two student representatives serving on the Board of Trustees, Leslie Barkemeyer ’03 and Khary Barnes ’02.

As Barnes is graduating, Barkemeyer will become the senior student representative next year, leaving one position open to the candidates.

As trustees, the student representatives’ votes on the board are of equal weight as that of the older members.

Nevertheless, “a lot of people run thinking they’ll be representatives of the students on board but you are not. You are not obliged to follow the wishes of any particular constituency” Barkemeyer said.

Barnes agreed, adding, “You have a responsibility to the university as a whole,”

“There is a lot that goes into being a student trustee,” Barnes said, “a lot of things students don’t know about. Many students run on lofty campaign platforms to try to win the race but they can’t come through.”

The two candidates at the form asked questions of the current student trustees and also discussed their campaign platforms and concerns.

“I’m concerned for maintaining the University prestige,” Shattan said. “Students are customers and they want the best value. Its important we create new creative ways of funding without increasing the tuition.”

“One of the elements of my platform is protecting the Greek system, its what makes Cornell–Cornell,” Shattan added. “Greek alumnae are the biggest endowment contributors.”

One of Cohl’s main concerns was student-teacher ratio in classrooms.

“My wife is an HD [Human Development] major and she’s in a statistics class where undergraduates grade her midterms,” Cohl said. “People bust their buts to get here and 1st semester they get killed because they have 1000 students in their classes.”

With rain, sleet and hail coming down on Cornell’s campus during the event, the student spectator turnout was not very high.

Heather Wynder grad, came to meet the candidates, despite the bad weather.

“I think that the student trustee position is an important spot and an issue that should be important to graduate students as well as undergraduate,” Wynder said.

Elections for student representatives for the Board of Trustees will take place on April 2 and students can cast their votes via computer, online.

Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya