February 28, 2012

Student Assembly Hopefuls Pitch Platforms at Forums

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At a forum on Tuesday, candidates running for the Student Assembly positions of president, executive vice president, undesignated, international, LGBTQ, minority and women’s issues at-large representatives told their peers what they would do to work on student health, safety and diversity issues. Only candidates running for positions voted on by the entire student body participated.

“I want to continue working on alcohol safety for the student body,” said current executive vice president Adam Gitlin ’13, who is running uncontested for president of the S.A. “That involves the Cayuga’s Watchers program, which we’re trying to launch right now, it involves medical amnesty protocol on and off campus and it also involves mental health on campus.”

Gitlin said he intends to expand upon current student safety initiatives, including the BLUE Late Night Shuttle Van system, which provided late-night transportation around campus during the fall semester study week, and gorge safety. He also stressed the need for different organizations to come together in forums to discuss ways to improve student health and safety.

Gitlin said he plans to let S.A. members take ownership of the projects.

“I want to continue the task force system … which groups assembly members around certain topics,” he said.

To hold members accountable for the work they do to further their initiatives, Geoffrey Block ’14, candidate for executive vice president, said he would create a tracker, in the form of a Google Apps document, to show the progress representatives are making, as well as post representatives’ attendance records on the S.A. website.

Other candidates, running for undesignated at-large representative positions, said that, if elected, they would focus on improving student safety.

Anisha Chopra ’13, who is running for re-election for the position, said her top priority would be student safety. April Manhertz ’14, also running for undesignated at-large representative, said she would work to expand the late night shuttle system that currently runs only during finals week to run during the entire school year.

The candidates for international, LGBTQ and minority at-large representatives also emphasized the need to expand on diversity initiatives, with many students declaring their intention to unify the student body.

Enrico Bonatti ’14, who is running for international at-large representative, said that he hopes to bring together different groups of international students.

Speaking about the difficulties international students face in integrating with the student population on campus, international at-large candidate Wei Yang ’14 said that she hopes to create a peer mentorship program that matches seniors with freshmen from different communities.

Echoing Yang, Cameron Pritchett ’15, a candidate for minority at-large representative, said that “inclusion is one of the most important things we can stress at Cornell.”

Another candidate for minority at-large representative, Jacob Zapata ’15, said he would try to create orientation events that would support minority groups on campus to help the minority community integrate into the Cornell community.

Pablo Diaz ’13, who is running for LGBTQ representative, said that Cornell’s diversity encompasses more than just sexual orientation or race.

“People aren’t just queer; they’re queer and Jewish, Muslim, Christian, black, white,” Diaz said. “All of those cross-sections are things that can be used and drawn on to really bridge the gaps between the different communities on campus that can work together to unify Cornell and make it a safer place not just for gay people but for everybody.”

Narda Terrones ’14 is running uncontested for a newly created position on the S.A., the women’s issues at-large representative.

Terrones said she wants to address sexual harassment issues on campus, in addition to conducting research that will lead to creating “more programs for women who choose to have kids during college.”

Voting online will begin on March 5 and end March 7.

Original Author: Sylvia Rusnak