Candidates for Student Assembly president and executive vice president gathered on Wednesday night to present their future plans for the Assembly and the Cornell community.
These proposals — from free Netflix services to transparency in communication — were made at a public forum to help the candidates secure their desired positions during the election next week.
Varun Devatha ’19, current S.A. executive vice president and presidential candidate, emphasized the need to improve student experience on campus. Part of his plan includes providing students with access to streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, while the other part consists of improving campus security.
When asked about how to achieve a balance between campus security and personal privacy, Devatha said that people’s “expectations for privacy are no longer there” as “the world has become less and less private.”
“I want to ensure that students can have that safety but their privacy isn’t taken away from there,” he said.
The topic of transparency between the S.A. and the Cornell community appeared in both presidential candidates’ plans. Devatha suggested using iClickers in Assembly voting sessions, while Dale Barbaria ’19, currently vice president of internal operations and presidential candidate, suggested posting S.A. information on digital platforms to create easier access for the public.
“We need to look at the ability to ensure that individuals are able to hold their representatives accountable,” Devatha said, “We can do this in both a positive and negative methodology. We need both types of incentives for different types of people.”
Barbaria, in addition to proposing posting S.A. information online to increase transparency, emphasized the need for increasing student awareness of campus issues and holding the university accountable on its initiatives, such as its goal to become a carbon-neutral campus by 2035, as detailed in the Climate Action Plan.
Barbaria also noted the need to change within the assembly. He suggested providing training for S.A. representatives and lowering the threshold for having recall elections.
“It’s always good to start by leading by example … you hold power, and it is great power, and it is a question of whether or not the Student Assembly deserves any of that responsibility,” Barbaria said. “You as a community need the power to be able to remove [representatives].”
Joseph Anderson ’20, ex-officio member and representative to University Assembly running for executive vice president uncontested, echoed the hopes that representatives are held accountable and and that the S.A. leads by example in respecting the student body.
“Where does the line get drawn between Student Assembly members and just regular students at Cornell?” Anderson said. “It’s really making these representatives accountable for not just happens in the assembly but also outside of a student assembly. You have to hold them accountable for everything they do.”