September 22, 2016

Student Assembly Hopefuls Share Platforms at Candidate Forum

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Candidates focused on administrative spending, minority issues and college specific problems at the Student Assembly open forum moderated by the Cornell Speech and Debate Society Thursday.

There are currently 13 seats that need to be filled in the assembly. Not all candidates were present at the forum.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Representative
David Cox ’18
As a veteran, Cox said he believes he is well suited to work with the many unique individuals that make up the school.

“What better person to represent minority groups than someone who is in one of the smallest minority groups here on this campus,” he said. “Veterans make up 0.01 percent of the student population.”

First Generation Student Representative at Large
Zelia Gonzales ’20
Gonzales spoke about how her work for the City of Sacramento, which involved crafting minimum wage policy that would affect minority families, prepared her for the position.

Richard Escobar ’18
Escobar’s platform focuses on financial aid policies and special programs to help first generation students transition to college, pointing out that these students’ families do not have as much experience with the process.

Mayra Valadez ’18
Valadez said she plans to focus on current first-generation student programs, citing First-in-Class and ALANA as examples for possible collaboration.

Freshman Representative
Tristan Magloire ’20
Magloire expressed his understanding that if elected, his job would involve not only amplifying the freshman voice, but ensuring students receieve responses to the concerns they voice about unresolved issues.

Phoebe Lee ’20
Lee said she understands that representatives on the assembly need to be approachable.

“I want to make sure that every single voice is heard,” Lee said. “I’m here as a friend. I’m a freshman too.”

Keenan Ashbrook ’20
Ashbrook said he hopes to work with organizations such as The Public Service Center, Engage Cornell and the Orientation Steering Committee if he is elected.

“I want to increase the opportunities for freshman to get involved in civic life and community service,” Ashbrook said. “I think it can take a while for freshman to realize all the opportunities Cornell offers in these areas.”

Edem Dzodzomenyo ’20
Dzodzomenyo stressed the importance of reaching out to all groups on campus to make the S.A. more accessible.

“My number one issue in terms of platform is increasing transparency,” she said. “I believe by and large this begins my expanding the number of groups that we reach out to.”

Ryan Musto ’20
Musto’s six point plan focuses on getting work done in the assembly rather than just talking a big game.

“To achieve change at Cornell, it’s not about being grandiose,” Musto said. “It’s about achieving practical, day to day, little policy changes that help the community.”

Transfer Representative
Erika Campo ’18
Campo said she hopes to connect both current transfer students and new or incoming transfer students to help them address the social and academic issues they face.

“I come from a community college student, and as a community college student, I know that transfer students have unique problems and unique ideas to bring to the table,” Campo said.

Undergraduate Representative for the University Assembly
Paul Russell ’19
As a former member of the S.A., Russell stated that he understands important issues the representatives discuss often originate outside student governance, and said he wants to represent those voices in the University Assembly.

Sarah Park ’19
Park stressed that, in addition to promoting the importance of community, she wants students to be more informed about what the U.A. is and what is does.

Zach Schmetterer ’18
Schmetterer’s platform mainly revolves around University transparency, Cornell’s spending, and high rising tuition costs.

“We have some serious problems that are not being addressed on campus,” he said. “The Board of Trustees has spent over $280 million to date on interest rate swaps … These are major problems and we need to be addressing this by building coalitions, increasing financial oversight, and removing conflict of interest in these financial situations.”

Undesignated Representative at Large
Jung Won Kim ’18
Kim said he wants to do more than just “bridge the gaps” if he is elected. He hopes to propose “practical ideas that are more concrete.” He expressed that his former experience as a Student Assembly representative makes him more qualified for this position.

Ellie Reppy ’17
Reppy expressed her beliefs that a representative should be deeply involved in the community. She said she aims to reach out to as many organizations she does not take part in as possible.

Joseph Anderson ’20
“My big campaign focus is increasing the responsiveness and transparency of the assembly by expanding it to have more representatives and more voices,” Anderson said.