February 28, 2011

For President of the Student Assembly…

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The role of the Student Assembly President is to voice student opinion to the University administration. We are at a time when the student voice is not being sought in the administrative process. Unilateral decisions handed down recently from Day Hall — notably, cuts to academic programs, administrative restructuring of the Africana Studies and Research Center and changes to the University Recognition Policy for social fraternities and sororities — have underscored the need for the collective voice of the student body to be heard.

As students begin to vote Tuesday for S.A. President, they must consider which candidate can, when stonewalled by administrators, prioritize student opinion over administrative edicts and engage the entire student body — not just campus leaders. Mobilizing the campus community is tantamount to the success of the Student Assembly as a whole. An S.A. President backed by the full force of the student body will be able to stand tall in the face of administrative opposition.

Natalie Raps ’12 has the greatest potential to be this president.

Her strength as a candidate has been her ability to actively engage students across campus in new and creative ways. While the S.A. has historically struggled to pique student interest, Raps recognizes this problem and has developed a realistic plan to approach it head on. She is spearheading the development of www.cornellsa.org, an online hub for student resources, organizations and events on campus. This initiative will look beyond the boundaries set by previous assemblies and bring students together both on campus and online, uniting individuals to participate in campus life.

Raps has the most extensive experience of any presidential candidate, having been on the Assembly for three years, but that has not clouded her ability to cast a critical eye on the way the S.A. functions. She has proven herself to be creative and engaging, and we are confident that if one of her initiatives does not succeed, she will seek out new avenues to accomplish her goals. Raps — the current vice president of public relations for the S.A. — already has a year of communications experience to draw from. This, along with her accessibility and receptiveness to feedback, will only help her establish herself as the voice of the student body.

Raps is not without her shortcomings, however. She has been vague about her position on the current student organization funding process — one of the most important, and most criticized, functions of the S.A. Yet, the day-to-day management of S.A. finances is not the president’s direct responsibility, and even so, we are confident that over time Raps will gain the knowledge necessary to oversee and improve the funding process. In addition to this concern, while Raps has several creative new initiatives she hopes to implement, questions have been raised about the feasibility of her ideas. However, Raps’ focus, energy and commitment to her ideals assure us that she will successfully navigate any obstacles and see her initiatives through.

Ultimately, Raps is the creative candidate, but she also has the vision to be realistic about the S.A.’s limitations and the drive to strengthen the Assembly’s role within the campus community.