April 10, 2007

S.A. Chooses New Officers

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Last spring, the Student Assembly spent nine hours choosing the current executive board; last night, next year's S.A. representatives shortened that process to about three-and-a-half hours. Spring S.A. elections have spots for 19 representatives, but the 2007-2008 S.A. currently has 18 representatives-elect. There is no representative for the College of Human Ecology for next year. To be elected to the executive board, candidates must receive at least 12 votes. S.A. executive board elections are closed to the public. Current Vice President for Internal Affairs Elan Greenberg ’08 won the position of S.A. president over current Executive Vice President Mark Coombs ’08 and Parliamentarian Mazdak Asgary ’08. Greenberg is currently a representative from the human ecology college, but will be an undesignated at-large representative next year. Coombs is an undesignated at-large representative and a Sun columnist. Asgary will be the international liaison at-large next year. In the first round of voting, Greenberg received nine votes, Asgary six and Coombs three. As the lowest vote-getter, Coombs was removed from the race. Greenberg later received the necessary 12 votes. For his future term in office, Greenberg emphasized his desire to make the S.A. more visible and accessible to students, as well as to streamline S.A. processes. “What we’ve stressed all along is that the S.A. should not be just a political organization. I want the S.A. to be very transparent, very efficient, decisive and to hold accountability at its highest levels. One of the most monumental things we did was change the election process,” Greenberg said. “The S.A. is now a different organization; we’ve worked very hard, and we’re serious about fixing some problems they’ve had in the past.” This year’s change in general election process, which eliminated the possibility for candidates to run on tickets, is a change that contributed to the efficiency of the elections. S.A. members also hope this increased the objectivity of the internal elections, in which students made a on the spot decision based on a new structure that focused more on question and answer sessions and informal discussion than speeches. “The changes in the rules are to accommodate a more democratic system, [in which] assembly members can run without the burden of having to commit to a person or a ticket,” said Director of Elections Nitin Chadda ’07. Chadda was in charge of the election for president, but Greenberg, as the incoming president, ran the other elections. “[Greenberg] is a proven leader, the kind of leader we need, who won’t polarize different political groups. He will act as the uniter, making sure everyone’s opinions are heard fairly and heard equitably,” said C.J. Slicklen ’09, current vice president for public relations, representative for the hotel school and executive vice president-elect. Slicklen ran against Ahmed Salem ’08, current international liaison and at-large representative-elect. According to a few S.A. members, the deciding vote for Slicklen was cast by Greenberg. The vote was 12-5, because At-Large Representative Vince Hartman ’08 had already left. With regards to Greenberg and Slicken as the new leaders of the S.A., Chadda emphasized their compatibility as leaders. “[Greenberg] is extremely driven to do things with his own two hands. [Slicklen] is very similar, a very driven person, not afraid to get his hands dirty. Their styles of management are similar; they don’t hide behind e-mails, they talk directly to people. [They are] an ideal match for leadership of the S.A.,” Chadda said. Both Greenberg and Slicken indicated next year’s process of byline funding as an area to prove their dedication to a new style of management. “My immediate goal is to make sure we are all on the same page regarding professionalism. [Byline funding] is one of the most highly contested and heated issues the S.A. deals with, and we are not going to let that slip between our fingers,” Greenberg said. Byline funding is the allocation of the student activity fee, a total of about $2.5 million, to the Student Assembly Finance Committee and other groups on campus, such as the athletics department. All of the S.A. members interviewed stressed the importance of the protecting the diversity of opinions within the S.A., as well as promoting a more accessible image. “You couldn’t ask for a more dignified and respectful guy, who will command with authority and a no-nonsense style. I’m going to tell him, whatever you do according your duties outlined in the charter, please just learn from my mistakes. He is a guy who is going to have his face out there, a member of the Greek community, which I am not, and so have more access to that side of the campus, as well as great access, of course, to the ROTC,” said current S.A. President Kwame Thomison ’07. The other executive board members elected last night include School of Industrial and Labor Relations Representative Ryan Lavin ’09, who ran uncontested for vice president for internal operations. Minority At-Large Representative Arjun Natarajan ’09 was elected as vice president for public relations over College of Arts and Sciences Representatives-elect Rammy Salem ’10 and Austin Redmond ’10. Adam Gay ’08 won over Asgary for vice president of finance. Not all representatives are pleased with the winners. “I think the administration won last night. [Vice President for Student and Academic Services] Susan Murphy [’73] will be very happy," Coombs said. Coombs said that some S.A. Representatives have chosen not to take actions in the past for fear of angering Day Hall, particularly Murphy. Asgary also said that Gay has never been to an appropriations committee meeting, which the finance vice president chairs. “We did not successfully elect a V.P. of finance,” Ahmed said.