March 3, 2003

S.A. Elections Begin Today

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Today marks the beginning of the voting period for the future members of the 2003-2004 Student Assembly (S.A.), as 54 candidates, most supported by either the Cornell Democrats, the Cornell Real Needs Coalition or Students for Students, are vying for 19 one-year terms in the S.A.

Outgoing S.A. President Noah Doyle ’03 explained that this year’s election rules underwent major changes due to the work of Director of Elections Leslie Barkemeyer ’03 and the S.A.’s Elections Committee.

“I honestly believe that the number of candidates we have running in this year’s election is a testament to the committee’s hard work and the growing influence the Student Assembly has on the Cornell campus,” Doyle said.

All S.A. candidates have put forth strong efforts in the campaign process, including the strategic placement of colorful flyers in every crevice of the Cornell campus.

Jennifer Hoos ’04 is running as an undesignated representative along with Josh Bronstein ’05, Sai Pidatala ’04 and Cory Sinclair ’04 on the 23-candidate ticket backed by the Cornell Democrats. Hoos, along with other candidates on the ticket, have campaigned door to door to reach students on an individual level.

“We are trying to meet as many students [as possible] on campus and talk to them about issues which are of concern to them, one student at a time. Outreach efforts to all student communities on the Cornell campus have always been a priority,” Hoos explained.

Among the top issues on this year’s Democratic ticket is better funding for student organizations, support for Greek Autonomy, and, of course, their position on Slope Day, as popularized by their slogan, “I will never support a fenced-in, catered Slope Day.”

Stuti Mandala ’04, running for re-election as an Arts and Sciences representative on the Cornell Democrats ticket, stresses the differences in the Democrats’ positions to those of opposition groups, including the Real Needs Coalition, which includes students endorsed by the Cornell Republicans, and Students for Students, a new coalition of student leaders formed because they felt the S.A. was not responding to student needs.

“The number one reason we differ from both is that we truly work for Cornell and we really listen to students,” Mandala said.

Elliot Reed ’05, vice chair of the Cornell Republicans, explains, “The Real Needs Coalition is running because of the S.A.’s seeming ignorance as to what actually affects students.”

This past fall, Reed and Darren Rumack ’04, a candidate for the international liaison seat, began drafting The Real Needs Coalition’s platform, “A Contract with the Cornell Community.”

According to the Contract, the Real Needs Coalition seeks to “begin restoring fraternity and sorority autonomy, putting money back in the hands of student groups and individuals, and prioritizing campus safety.”

“We aren’t simply promising the last-minute saving of Slope Day, we are proposing a good number of quality life changes that every Cornellian will appreciate — even our opposition. We haven’t presented any cheesy slogans or anything like that; we are trying to meet a need that has been ignored,” explained Reed.

New to the elections this year is the Students for Students coalition, with a 24-person ticket. Running for an undesignated representative seat on this ticket is Stephen Blake ’04.

According to Blake, “The goal of Students for Students is to bring ‘student leaders, not student politicians’ to student government. Student governance at Cornell has a lot of potential that is currently unrealized. We need to tap that potential and make the university we love a better place.”

Students for Students is also trying to reach out to students on an individual level.

“Our goal is to tell the truth, to be positive, and to sell one student at a time on the need for change,” Blake said.

Among the proposed issues on the Students for Students platform is enhancing Cornell’s image with better speakers and entertainment, reforming the Student Activity Fee Committee (SAFC) and supporting minority rights and diversity on campus. “Students for Students is not anti-Slope Day,” but instead proposes an agenda under the title Rock the Slope, according to Blake. Students for Students is opposed to fencing and catering, but through Rock the Slope hopes to “press the administration to let students decide the details if they are dictating the plan,” Blake explained.

Faced with this new opposition, Mandala reiterated her faith in the Cornell Democrats, citing the Democrats’ track record in the S.A. and their past success in obtaining more funding for minority groups as factors that may set them ahead in the current election.

“Students for Students has no track record, they are novices, and they have no history of campus leadership,” Mandala said.

Additionally, she and the Cornell Democrats “perceive the Students for Students position on Slope Day to be pro-administration,” Mandala said.

All candidates encourage students to vote in the elections, which will be held until tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. Doyle reminds students that “a strong campaign is one that focuses on achievements and not false promises. I hope students take into account experience, platform and ability to voice undergraduate student concerns to Cornell’s senior administration when electing next year’s assembly. Clearly, there are both ideological and experience differences among both the candidates and tickets.”

Archived article by Sarah Workman