Before passing a resolution condemning the University’s Slope Day plans, the Student Assembly (S.A.) raised questions about the impartiality of Director of Elections Leslie Barkemeyer ’03 at its weekly meeting last night.
“I am sorry that I have to stand before you today, but I must publicly ask that Leslie Barkemeyer please step down from her current role as Head of Elections,” said Christopher Dial ’04, currently campaigning for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transsexual Questioning (LGBTQ) liaison S.A. position.
Dial’s concern over Barkemeyer’s impartiality stemmed from a meeting in which he claims she discouraged him from running for the LGBTQ position because of her affiliation with the Cornell Democrats.
“She confessed that … she had been asked to meet with me to discourage my running,” Dial said. “I do not think it is fair to anyone in this election to have Ms. Barkemeyer act as the Head of Elections because her loyalty to other student groups clearly has and does conflict with the standard she is being asked to uphold.”
In a brief written response, Barkemeyer denied the allegations.
“I did not tell Christopher not to run. I will not resign because of this false accusation. It is troubling that even before the campaign period has begun these candidates resort to personal attacks,” she stated.
The S.A. began an extended discussion over Slope Day with a report from the Slope Day Steering Committee. The presentation focused on the history of Slope Day, committee members, proposed plans and issues of contention and collaboration.
“We can all agree that the safety of the student body is the primary concern. Secondly, we want to make [Slope Day] as fun as possible. Our motto is ‘Have fun; don’t die'” said Zachary Conine ’03, Steering Committee member.
The presentation also addressed some concerns expressed by S.A. members, specifically over whether the Steering Committee should blindly accept the demands made by the administration.
“The students of the Slope Day Steering Committee would love it if [the S.A.] could get the charge overturned, but we want to err on the side of prudence and have something really fun planned in case [the charge isn’t] overturned,” said Justin McEvily ’03, Steering Committee member. “We are trying to make the best of a bad situation.”
“I think that acknowledgment clears up a lot of misgivings,” said Stuti Mandala, S.A. vice president of finance, in regards to McEvily’s position.
Questions were also raised about the effectiveness of catering Slope Day in curbing potentially dangerous situations such as sharing drinks and binge drinking.
“If you are hell-bent on making your last day of classes centered on drinking yourself into a stupor, there is nothing we or the administration can do about it,” McEvily said.
Addressing the S.A.’s concern that fencing in the slope is not really necessary, Conine said, “By installing fences, our goal is not to limit access to the Cornell community, but to limit access to those who don’t have a part in Slope Day,” referring to an incident last year in which a 15 year-old girl was taken to Cayuga Medical Center due to excessive alcohol consumption.
“This is not an issue where we can make everybody happy,” McEvily said.
The S.A. discussed the issue of Slope Day further with a resolution condemning the unilateral nature of the President’s Charge to the Slope Day Steering Committee.
“There’s a difference between this resolution and the [S.A.’s ad-hoc] Slope Day Committee. It’s stating that we don’t like [President Hunter R. Rawlings III’s] decree, that it was a unilateral, ridiculous thing to bring to us,” Barkemeyer said.
“I would say the majority of people here support the resolution,” said Josh Katcher ’06, Class of 2006 representative.
Although the resolution passed after a tie-breaking vote was cast by Executive Vice President and acting chair Sai Pidatala ’04, some members of the community expressed disapproval of the S.A.’s actions regarding Slope Day.
“Over the past week I’ve been bombarded with petitions, advertisements and quarter cards that in my opinion amount to nothing but propaganda … Antagonizing an administration that has already made its decision is not going to help anything,” said Krystyn Tendy ’06.
James Lamb ’03 agreed.
“All you guys have really said is that students are fighting students about Slope Day … and I don’t care, I’m a senior … James Lamb doesn’t give a damn!,” Lamb said.
Archived article by Elizabeth Donald