Cameron Pollack / Sun Senior Photographer

March 3, 2016

Cornell Student Assembly Considers Creating First Generation Rep Position

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The Student Assembly debated a new resolution to create a First Generation Student Representative position at its meeting Thursday.

First generation students should have a position of formal representation on campus, according to Saim Chaudhary ’17, S.A. minority liaison at large.
Fourteen percent of undergraduate students are first generation students.

“The first generation students on campus feel they are underrepresented not only on the S.A. but on many forums on campus,” Chaudhary said. “They feel that the administration does not listen to their concerns … they feel they should have a representative that is concerned solely with their interests.”

Travis Ghirdharie ’17, a first generation student and co-sponsor of the resolution, argued that the proposed position would help first generation students feel united and heard.

“Every first generation student felt like their issue was their own issue,” he said. “The representative would represent those students.”

First generation students face many issues that stem from having parents who have not experienced college life, according to Nicholas Karavolias ’18, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution.

“There are a lot of first generation issues surrounding social capital that comes from parents who attended college,” he said. “Eighty percent of first gen students don’t attend office hours. We want to find ways to debunk those stigmas.”

Eduardo Medina ’18 voiced his support for the resolution, drawing on the specific issues that he said he has faced as the first in his family to attend college.

“Essentially, there are very specific adversities and problems that first generation college students face, one of these is often low socioeconomic status as well as first generation status,” he said.

Additionally, securing financial aid is often especially difficult for first generation students, according to Medina.

“I had to have my grandmother cosign a loan. She doesn’t even speak English. Wells Fargo called me and told me ‘Your cosigner doesn’t speak English. You need to find a translator,’” he said. “I really didn’t want to take out the loans for this semester. I was questioning being here … However I am here, because I realize there are things I can do if I continue my education, and I’m not worried about paying those loans back.”