March 11, 2016

Cornell Student Assembly Candidates Debate Platforms

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Student Assembly candidates running for Minority Students Liaison, International Students Liaison, Arts and Sciences Representative and Engineering Repre­sentative presented their platforms at a forum moderated by the Cornell Speech and Debate Society Thursday.

College of Engineering Representative
Dale Barbaria ’19
Barbaria, the only candidate to run in the Special Election last month, said he aims to increase the presence of the S.A. within the engineering community.

“My goal by the end of next year is to get a student from the engineering community to run for another S.A. position besides engineering representative to increase involvement,” he said.

Rebecca Herz ’18
Herz stressed the need for students to become more united and pushed her platform to create a website to swap textbooks, share notes and form study groups to foster more of a community within the College of Engineering.

Justin Selig ’17
Selig talked about his past accomplishments on S.A., which further his goal of improving the policies that affect students. He said he has collaborated with the faculty senate to reduce prelim conflicts, improved the housing lottery and helped make open-course syllabi available before enrollment period.

College of Arts and Sciences Representative

Weihong Rong ’17
Rong called the College of Arts and Sciences “a wonderful intersection between the arts and the sciences, as the name implies.”

“It is currently the largest, and arguably the most diverse, college that Cornell has but I find that just because of its size, it gets lost in the shuffle of Cornell’s environment,” Rong said. “And that’s what I hope to bring together in unity, transparency and generally, happiness.”

Richard Wang ’18
Wang voiced the need for more representatives who embody the ideals of the college.

“We don’t just need more representatives, we need representatives to actually represent the different academic interests of Arts and Sciences,” he said.

Wang also called collaboration with the administration a past failure of the S.A. that he would like to address.

Daniel Engelson ’18
Engelson focused on mental health issues at Cornell and the fight to help students get the assistance that they need while remaining on track academically.

All three candidates agreed that the S.A. needs to improve its connection with the administration and collaborate more effectively in order to achieve its objectives.

Minority Students Liaison At Large

Julia Montejo ’17
Montejo said she has had success in connecting different minority student communities across Cornell.

She said she has also spoken out in response to issues facing minority students on our campus, such as the administration’s response to incidents at the Latinx Ivy League Conference, the exclusion of student voices in decision-making processes and the recent changes in financial aid policies, according to the Cornell Assembly Elections website.

Jose Montes ’19
Montes based his platform on ideals of collaboration and connection. As a Latino student, he said he understands the struggles that minorities face on campus and has strived to preserve cultural identity and expand multicultural programs.

Montes said he believes in power in numbers and wants to help other minority groups as much as he has helped the Latino community.

Mohammad Imtisal Qadir ’18.
Qadir discussed the creation of more community resource centers for minorities and the need to increase the number of minority representatives on S.A. He also asserted that students should not have to pay to reserve university spaces. Qadir suggests fostering unity among the minority community as early as freshman year, with the help of R.A’.s.

Traciann Celestin ’19
Celestin said she strives to develop an annual leadership conference where leaders at Cornell can share their experiences and improve their skills.

She also said she will urge minority student groups to promote mental health awareness by sending out surveys and holding forums.

International Students Liaison At Large

Akhilesh Issur ’17
Issur discussed his aim to address mental health issues in a more proactive way on campus. He said he wants to hold more events connecting international students of different backgrounds with different international groups at Cornell.

He added that he wants to give international students a larger voice in making decisions pertaining to financial aid and housing policies.

Hamish MacDiarmid ’19

MacDiarmid said he wants to focus on improving international student life.

He said he wants to keep at least one dining hall open during short breaks for students staying on campus and to make storage more affordable through collaborations with the International Students Union.

He also urged reverting back to a need-blind policy for international and undocumented student admissions.

Not all S.A. candidates were present at the forum.