Alice Song / Sun Staff Photographer

Omar Din speaks at the Student Assembly meeting this week.

February 28, 2019

Student Assembly Meeting Reveals Slope Day Headliner, Discusses BDS Movement

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At the Student Assembly meeting on Thursday, the 2019 slope day headliner was announced, Students for Justice in Palestine voiced concerns about S.A. conduct, a resolution was presented to create a new I.T. committee and an election reform resolution was also presented.

The first presentation of the meeting was given by the Pravir Samtani ’19, executive director of Cornell Slope Day Programming Board, gave updates on the progress of the festival and announced this year’s acts. The tickets will go on sale on March 19 and prices — which range between $20 and $30 — will remain the same as last year according to Samtani.

Steve Aoki will headline Slope Day in May, and will be accompanied by artists Cousin Stizz and Ezi. According to Samtani, the board worked with other concert programming boards such as Cornell Concert Commission to “hit all genres” to “appease” the student body.

After the announcement, members of Students for Justice in Palestine spoke during the open microphone session. The students voiced their concerns over a meeting that S.A. members attended in response to a statement SJP released.

On Feb. 20, SJP released a statement saying they will “put back on the table” — in the form of an S.A. resolution — the boycott, divest and sanction movement for Israel because of the treatment of Palestinians, according to their Facebook page. A similar movement occurred in the 1980s and 1990s to protest the system of apartheid in South Africa.

Architecture, Art, and Planning representative, Grace Park ’19, was contacted over February break by an executive board member of Roitman Chabad Center at Cornell, Park said. Park was contacted to speak with the member as a S.A. representative and was asked to include other S.A. members in the meeting.

The meeting — which was originally supposed to take place in Libe cafe — was a closed door meeting. Nearly half the members of the S.A. were in attendance at this meeting, according to Dale Babaria ’19, vice president of finance and undesignated representative at large.

Colin Benedict ’21, recently elected minority student liaison expressed his frustration at the significant number of S.A. members meeting in an unofficial capacity.

“If they want to bring something to the Student Assembly, they come in front of all of us, we don’t just reach out to 15 members and include just those 15 members with those concerns,” Benedict said.

According to Barbaria, the people at the meeting were not intending to meet with other S.A. members.

“None of the individuals went into the meeting knowing there were other S.A. members there,” he said.

The discussion at the meeting morphed into ways to improve the discussion about the BDS movement with the S.A. The next S.A. meeting will feature teach-ins from SJP and Cornell Hillel about the groups’ viewpoints on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to a passed motion.

Varun Devatha ’19 said that members of the executive committee also met with members of the administration and discussed the idea to host someone on neutral grounds to speak about the conflict.

Resolution 29 was also introduced in the meeting, aiming to create a standing committee to formalize the relationship between the S.A. and information technologies at Cornell. Jaewon Sim ’21, vice president for internal operations, was the sponsor of this organization.

Last February, an ad hoc committee was created by the S.A. to investigate net-print measures at Cornell and improve the system according to Sim. The resolution would make it easier to work with I.T. in the future and maintain the existing relationships with the ad hoc committee, Sim said. The current resolution has been tabled and will be discussed at later meetings.

The last item discussed at the meeting was Resolution 28, which would amend the Spring 2019 election rules. This resolution comes after the trustee nominating committee voted to combine the student assembly elections and trustee elections in an effort to increase voter turnout.

According to Manisha Munasinghe grad, graduate student trustee, voter turnout decreases in back-to-back elections — which she said occurred in the 2017 Student Assembly and Undergraduate Trustee elections.

The resolution would make it possible for students running for trustee to also be considered for undesignated representative at large, in a similar capacity to president and executive vice president races of the student assembly.

Munaisignhe and Dustin Liu ’19, the undergraduate trustee, raised concerns about how the change in the S.A. election rules could potentially conflict with the current trustee election rules. Other assembly members did not believe the resolution was within the purview of the S.A.’s charter.

The S.A. voted to approve the “intent” of the resolution with 17-4-4 and will discuss the details of the resolution later.