April 26, 2011

For Student Trustee…

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OVER THE COURSE OF THE PAST TWO WEEKS, two candidates have stood above the rest in the race for the undergraduate student trustee: Alex Bores ’13 and Nathaniel Rosen ’13.

The student trustee occupies a unique position on campus. He or she is responsible –– as any other trustee –– for looking out for the long-term interests of the University at large. This entails envisioning the future, setting goals and then handing down broad mandates for the administration to decide how to implement the goals. Rather than telling the University which programs to no longer offer, for example, the trustees may require the administration to cut a certain percentage of the budget. In this sense, it is no wonder why many remain skeptical about the real influence of the student trustee. A single voice and vote among 64, and especially that of a student, often means the student has a difficult time bringing about any real change.

However, in a symbolic sense, the student trustee represents much more. The undergraduate student trustee has a mandate from the entire student body and is charged by the students to defend their collective voice to the Board on the major issues. Of all 64 trustees, it is the undergraduate student trustee who is expected to intimately understand the concerns of all students and be willing to go to bat for them, regardless of the stance of the rest of the Board.

The ideal undergraduate trustee candidate is thus one with a deep understanding of the student body’s concerns, but one with the political savvy to be able to navigate the appropriate channels of the Board of Trustees and the administration. The ideal student trustee is not only a candidate who promises to stand up for the students and has the track record to prove it, but one who also has an understanding of how to pick his battles. This is, at the end of the day, an accessible and knowledgeable candidate.

After meeting with all six student trustee candidates and observing their two major debates, we think it is these characteristics that ultimately separate Bores from the pack. From the beginning of his campaign, Bores has been seemingly omnipresent on campus. He has attended most major student events, spent much of his time conversing with major student leaders about the issues facing their constituents and held open office hours. It is this accessibility to the student body and desire to listen to their concerns that we believe will make him a successful trustee if elected.

Of all the candidates, Bores possesses the strongest understanding of the current issues facing the student body after nearly two years of involvement in student life and the political experience to see their concerns heard. Bores was one of the leaders of the Cornell Students Against Sweatshops movement that convinced the University to pressure Nike and Russell Athletics into confronting their worker’s rights abuses. These experiences will surely help him navigate the political channels necessary to bring the student voice to the Board of Trustees — where being a politician is a distinct advantage when fighting for student interests as one of 64.

Bores’ strengths make him the candidate most likely to be successful as trustee. However, we are not without our qualms with the way Bores conducted his campaign. Bores has not been straightforward about his involvement with some of the initiatives he has taken credit for, including some involving The Sun, and the role he had in crafting them with student leaders. We hope and believe that outside the context of a political campaign that Bores would act with more professionalism and integrity.

Despite these shortcomings, Bores’ campus presence and understanding of campus politics ultimately make him the best candidate for student trustee. Regardless of your choice, we encourage all students to vote for student trustee this week and make your voice heard.