Student Assembly presidential candidates Jordan Berger ’17 and Mitch McBride ’17 debated their varying visions for the student body Wednesday in Ives Hall.
Berger is serving her third year as S.A. Parliamentarian, citing her experience of working three Student Assemblies and University administrations led by two different presidents. She said she hopes to improve communication between students, organizations and their representatives by bringing conversation out of the classroom and into the S.A.
“[Moving conversations to the floor of the S.A.] really gets students to talk about the different issues that they are facing and about how we can make an effective change on campus,” Berger said.
Berger also called for clearer communication between the student body and administration.
“A lot of the time students are left out of the conversation … [we should] figure out how to get a student on each and every one of these committees — whether it’s a voting seat or not,” she said
McBride, currently the S.A. Vice President of Internal Operations, said he is working with the Knight Institute to add diversity requirements to the Freshman Writing Seminar. He said he hopes to establish mandatory two to three week discussions on diversity issues related to course subjects.
“If we talk about these internal biases that we have in a small group discussion — if you were required to talk — then we would hopefully see an end to some of the [injustice] that we experience,” McBride said.
McBride also emphasized specific reforms he would pursue, such as expanding medical amnesty for organizations in order to promote emergency calls and cultivate a safer campus environment.
“The current Medical Amnesty policy reads that individuals are protected, but if you call from a fraternity or sorority house, you don’t get protection for the organization,” he explained.
Both candidates emphasized that the S.A. needs to transform to better and more accurately reflect the needs of students.
Berger said, if elected, she will work to advance “better representation, better policies and better outreach.”
“We are trying to make this representative shift and to make you feel that your voice is heard from the administration and to the student assembly representatives,” she said. “I will not make promises that these changes will happen, but will continue to work with administration.”
McBride stressed out that with the support of the student body, his proposed reforms could become a reality.
“I feel that I’ve been working on many issues like diversity requirement, like medical amnesty, like financial aid,” he said. “I’ve been actually making progress and I feel that if I have students behind me — we would be able to accomplish some of these goals.”
Berger added that she hopes the two candidates will work together in the future, regardless of the outcome of the election.
“Both of us will hopefully be on the S.A. next year,” she said. “We can both work together to move our platforms to become a reality regardless of whether or not we are elected.”
The debate — hosted by the Cornell Speech and Debate Society — featured almost 30 co-sponsoring student organizations and questions created by the Debate Society with submissions from student groups and the audience.
Voting for the S.A. elections will begin March 14 and close at 2:00 p.m. on March 15.