This article has been updated to include the full list of candidates.
A former intern for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a self-described “walking meme” and 18 other new Cornellians are running in the upcoming Student Assembly fall election that will decide the next freshman and transfer student representatives.
Sixteen freshmen and four transfer students are competing for four freshman representative positions and one transfer student representative position, respectively. Seventeen of the total 20 candidates responded before publication to The Sun’s request for an email interview — below is a summary and select highlights of their responses.
Of the candidates who answered The Sun’s survey, all except one came from various parts of the United States, with eight of them hailing from within New York State. They come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, including Ethiopian, Chinese and Puerto Rican backgrounds.
Several candidates promised to work to improve campus safety, with some singling out a desire to improve Cornell’s response to sexual assault on campus.
“I believe response and awareness for sexual assault is grossly underperformed on campus, and though administration has taken good steps in the right direction, it simply isn’t enough,” George Defendini ’22, freshman representative candidate, wrote, calling for the implementation of a “student-led sexual assault support group.”
Meanwhile, Nicole Iori ’22, also in the running for freshman representative, said she would address sexual assault on campus by making Cornell “safer at night” by increasing lighting and expanding the Blue Light system.
Many candidates also seemed intent on improving Cornell’s mental health infrastructure, with the “walking meme” Laura Holland ’22, freshman representative candidate, suggesting that Cornell should create “mental resource centers in RPCC, Appel, the Takton Center” to offer more accessible mental health resources for students residing in North Campus.
“I’m running for Freshman Representative because of mental health issues on campus,” Mike Stefanko ’22, freshman representative candidate, said. “For a very long time, I have dealt with anxiety. To find out that freshman could face wait times starting at one month to get regular, scheduled mental health help left me surprised and unhappy with the status quo.”
Other candidates argued that they will focus on helping to integrate new students into Cornell community as they get settled in.
“Coming from [The University of Virginia] and seeing how both the student community of UVA rallied together with the local population of Charlottesville following the deadly white supremacist rallies on our school grounds, I know the importance of community,” said Catherine Huang ’21, transfer student representative candidate. “As any of my friends will say about me, I love bringing people together.”
Still others had some ideas for improving transparency in how the S.A. currently operates.
“I want to create a freshman class Group Me or other effective means of communication in order to make it so my peers can contact me without a huge time commitment on their part,” John Clancy ’22, freshman representative candidate, said emphasizing the need for a more “efficient” assembly. There are over 5,000 newly admitted students in the class of 2022, according to a University press release.
The candidates will participate in a public forum on Thursday in Willard Straight Hall. Voting starts next Monday and ends on Sept. 26. The S.A. Elections Committee hopes to announce their results at 10 a.m. on Sept. 27 at the earliest. Detailed candidate information can be accessed on the S.A. website.
Transfer Representative Candidates:
Catherine Huang ’21
Dawna Badie ’21
Michelle Glauberzon ’21
Stephen Rutkowski ’21
Freshmen Representative Candidates:
Akugbe Imudia ’22
Alex Foley ’22
Connie Hou ’22
George Defendini ’22
Indigo Pavlov ’22
John Clancy ’22
Jolie Wei ’22
Kirubeal Wondimu ’22
Kwasi Baryeh ’22
Laura Holland ’22
Lucas Smith ’22
Michael Stefanko ’22
Nicole Iori ’22
Noah Huber ’22
Umran Mustafa ’22
Valentina Xu ’22