February 28, 2003

S.A. Addresses New Campaign Tactics

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In a change of pace from its frequent debates over Slope Day, the Student Assembly (S.A.) passed resolutions regarding financial aid cuts, minority summer programs and coffee consumption at their meeting last night.

Student-Elected Trustee and Head of Elections Leslie Barkemeyer ’03 also announced her committee’s findings on candidates accused of illegal early campaigning.

“The committee met in executive session and we found that the accused parties were not guilty of early campaigning,” she said.

Undesignated Representative Steven Blake ’05 and candidates Nick Linder ’05 and Jason Jendrewski ’05 accused candidates including Tim Lim ’06 of early campaigning.

In response to Governor George Pataki’s proposed 16.6 percent budget cut to the State University of New York’s operating budget and cuts to the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and other sources of funding, the S.A. passed a resolution calling on the Governor to “amend his Executive Budget to allow students to receive their full TAP award during the semester they are eligible.”

“It’s terrible for an additional pressure to be placed on students receiving financial aid,” said Stuti Mandala ’04, S.A. vice president of finance.

The Governor’s proposal concerning TAP would prevent students from receiving a third of their TAP allotment until after graduation. This amounts to an average loss of $720.42 per student according to the resolution.

The S.A. also voiced its concern over the status of minority summer programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Princeton University by passing a resolution “strongly [reaffirming the S.A.’s] support of all of Cornell’s minority student enrichment programs [and expressing] its strong dismay with Princeton’s change in its summer minority enrichment programs.

“If MIT and Princeton can do this, what’s to stop other schools? It’s disturbing that Princeton would withdraw support just for fear of legal entanglement,” said Executive Vice President Sai Pidatala ’04, expressing his fears for the future of Cornell’s minority enrichment programs. Several members of the S.A. expressed worry that the resolution would have no impact.

“The resolution is great, but there’s no real implication to this. It seems to be all rhetoric [with] no impact on the student body,” said Transfer Representative Brandon Ashley ’05.

James Lamb ’03 concurred with Ashley’s view that the resolution does not take enough action. “This resolution is just giving lip service to an issue,” he said. Despite concerns from both the S.A. and the community, the resolution passed.

Taking on another global issue, the S.A. passed a resolution “[urging] the administration to make as much coffee in dining facilities Fair Trade as possible while under the current contract.”

In response to the cycle of poverty and debt encountered by many small coffee producers when market payments do not cover costs of production, suppliers of Fair Trade coffee are guaranteed a minimum price. “Even though [coffee] is a small part of a student’s purchases, it’s a life or death matter for many people,” said Dan Fireside grad.

In a statement read by Undesignated Representative Jackie Koppell ’05, Jessica Brown ’04 agreed. “We should consider the thousands upon thousands of people this resolution will affect,” she stated.

Though Fireside maintained that Cornell’s usage of Fair Trade coffee would not have a negative impact on quality or price, Ashley raised concerns about the effectiveness of the resolution. “I don’t believe it will have much effect. You talk about fairness? Well life isn’t fair, nor should coffee be,” he said. The resolution passed.

Archived article by Elizabeth Donald