Student Assembly candidates laid out their legislative agendas to address a wide range of issues from campus safety to professionalism within the assembly at a forum hosted by the ALANA Intercultural Board on Friday.
Candidates agreed that campus safety is a priority issue for many students. Abigail Hailu ’20, minority students liaison at-large candidate, said she thinks an “element of feeling unsafe as a person of color on this campus actually comes from the campus [climate] itself.”
“I think that there’s some parts of campus that you know are unsafe because of the social environments and climates,” Hailu said. “I think a big part of [combatting] that is targeted diversity initiatives that are comprehensive and long term and institutionalized.”
Shraddha Harshvardhan ’20, undesignated representative at-large candidate, argued that to enhance campus safety, Cornell should be “ensuring that there are more lights” on campus and improving its late night transportation methods.
“I really hope to make people feel safer in more isolated areas on campus,” Harshvardhan said. “[The Big Red Shuttle is] a really great way to go from 12 to 3 around campus in a safe mode of transportation … I really want to help increase awareness of that and increase [its] frequency.”
Varun Devatha ’19, S.A. executive vice president and candidate for president, described the recent arrest of a former Cornellian possessing weapons and bombs as “really scary” but cautioned against taking excessive measures to address campus safety.
“The obvious solutions come back to the Blue Lights and the lighting on the Arts Quad and all these other things, where you feel unsafe at night,” Devatha said. “But on top of that you don’t want to militarize this campus.”
Dale Barbaria ’19, S.A. vice president of internal operations and candidate for president, said the handling of the process surrounding the defunding of the Cornell Cinema “upset” him. He suggested that the Cornell Cinema controversy highlights larger issues with transparency and interactions with other organizations.
“[It is] important that the S.A., its appropriations committee and everyone else involved works with these organizations and treats them with a certain level of human decency,” Barbaria said.
“Every decision, every word that is made, that needs to be written down, that needs to be posted somewhere … committee reports should be public,” Barbaria added.
Franco Uribe-Rheinbolt ’20, undesignated representative at-large candidate, who worked at Cornell Cinema when the defunding decision was being made, said “it was just very unprofessional.”
Joseph Anderson ’20, S.A. undergraduate representative to the University Assembly and candidate for executive vice president, also raised concerns about the professionalism of the Assembly, mentioning the lack of communication between representatives and their constituents.
“Every person right here says we’re gonna reach out we’re gonna do this … for the majority of representatives that doesn’t happen,” Anderson said. “That’s the fundamental problem. They’re not held accountable by the own assembly so you got to make sure that their campaign promises are actually getting accomplished.”
To address these professionalism and communication problems, Jaewon Sim ’21, arts and sciences representative candidate, promised to improve the S.A.’s transparency by reforming its website.
“One of the things I’m working on is building the new S.A. website, which is at cornellsa.com, and that is where we are going to post all the information about everything we’re doing,” Sim said. “We also want to include a directory to student resources that people can go without hassle to find out who they should go to for help.”