Since the late-September elections to fill the freshman and transfer representative seats on the Student Assembly, the new slate of S.A. representatives have begun to tackle the issues they campaigned on, ranging from financial aid, to dining to fostering community on campus.
Pedro Da Silveira ’25, Andrew Juan ’25, Luna Lu ’25 and Michelle Song ’25 are the new freshman representatives, and Joane Kim ’24 is the new transfer representative. The new representatives all said they have a lot to learn about their new roles, but are excited to get to work.
The representatives all ran in response to specific problems — be it a lack of access to printing noticed by Lu or the financial aid distribution delays focused on by Song — but they approached them with their own methods and concerns.
“I’m excited to represent our class,” Juan said. “I’m really looking forward to this next year of working with all these amazing people I’ve met already on the Student Assembly.”
Juan and Song hope to work on issues related to financial aid delays. Juan emphasized increased transparency while Song wants the immediate release of all aid or a tuition freeze.
Lu was frustrated by the lack of certain amenities — like air conditioning and printer access — despite rising tuition.
“What exactly are we paying for?” Lu said. “Does the school really need that kind of money, and if so, where does all the money go?”
Many new representatives felt empowered by their newfound position. Silveira said he thinks that it’s easier to speed projects along when he can use his S.A. title to show potential partners that he’s serious.
“There’s a certain weight to being associated with the Student Assembly that can kind of incline people to listen to you… [people would be] more willing to help and work with you because they know that… you have a say in how things are run,” Silveira said.
Song is hoping to use this platform to advocate for issues that many of her peers have expressed concern over — including virtual learning options like recorded lectures and affordability issues like financial aid and student employee wages.
“These issues that I chose… respond to a crisis that I thought would completely destabilize our student body if not addressed
immediately,” Song said.
Kim was inspired to run by her experience with miscommunication and a lack of transparency with the Cornell Transfer Option, a program offered to first-year applicants that allows them to come to Cornell after doing their first year at another university. Recalling slow communication during her own transfer option process, she hopes to push for greater transparency about the release dates for transfer option decisions.
“There were a lot of steps that were taken during my transfer process that could’ve been a lot better,” Kim said
Kim also said she wants to use her position to fill that communication gap, allowing transfer students to voice their concerns through her.
“There’s 696 of us [transfer students], and [my role is] just being a point person for any transfer who’s going through something,” Kim said.
The new S.A. representatives will also face the issue of representing a diverse class on issues they are just becoming familiar with during their third month on campus. Juan said the bridge between the students and representatives will have to be better communication.
“That communication aspect is so important… if we have this table that we’re at but people don’t know where the table is, then we can’t get their voice,” Juan said. “We can only say so many things at one time about what our thoughts are and what we think our constituents think.”
Juan focused more than other representatives on increasing communications with students and communicating the S.A.’s weekly agenda earlier in the week, which he said would benefit disengaged people and help bring in underrepresented perspectives.
For Silveira, solving student issues in areas like dining requires communicating clear ideas to the freshman class so that they can understand who he is and what he wants to do.
“I wanted to show to my fellow students… I have plans that I can put into place, rather than just talking about something that can’t be done,” Silveira said.
Despite their short tenure, they have started to plan some initiatives. Juan and Lu want to act quickly to reduce laundry prices and issues with laundry machines, and all four freshman representatives plan to present a resolution to the S.A. calling for classes to include remote learning options like recording lectures.
However, because the S.A. cannot implement resolutions itself and instead has to have its resolutions approved by President Martha Pollack, the new representatives will have to work with students and faculty to get their demands met.