Politics and entrepreneurship are both powerful vehicles for change but are often viewed as mutually exclusive tactics when approaching challenges. For instance, here at Cornell, the Student Assembly is largely tasked with creating policy and recommendations that tends to call upon or incentivize other administrative groups to implement recommendations, where the power to adopt and implement these ideas are left in their hands for further action. Alternatively, there are various clubs and organizations strive to improve campus through entrepreneurial, tangible efforts (think the Free Period Products campaign). I believe the future of the Student Assembly can leverage the synergy between the political and entrepreneurial efforts at Cornell by fostering a greater sense of community collaboration, which is the sentiment that originally motivated me to run for a position.
For those of you who do not know me…Hi! My name is Dillon Eisman and I am a senior in the Dyson School majoring in Applied Economics and Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I am currently serving on the Student Assembly as the LGBTQIA+ Liaison At-Large and sit on the Appropriations, Diversity, and Educational Policy committees. I am passionate about addressing the larger, long-term concerns and goals of the undergraduate student population at Cornell and enjoy working with others to think of creative solutions to complex problems. Some of the questions that I think about include: How can we make campus parking more accessible? What could be done to provide free memberships to gyms? Where can we improve the support for mental health?
These questions offer several ambiguous possibilities, which makes distilling one solution into a single resolution particularly ineffective alone. Maybe the solution to campus parking is related to a lack of infrastructure, or maybe it is linked to the payment options and logistics (it’s probably both). However, passing legislation that theoretically proposed an increased funding source for additional parking spaces is only solving one facet of the issue at hand. Indeed, the resolution (and business plan) drafting process is a very time consuming and necessary process that is influential for impact, but it is only one element of the progress towards change. Responsibility does not end at the foot of the bill. An entrepreneur does not sit idle after drafting their business plan.
“Entrepreneurial politics” is essentially applying the innovation mentality to policy; it incorporates the “design-thinking” process where policies are iterated and ideas that support the legislature are rapidly prototyped in the real world. The environment surrounding politics and entrepreneurship both require individual courage to take the first steps in addressing problems, creativity in ideating ways to solve them and strategic thinking in the implementation process. It is our duty as SA members to ensure that the impact we have on our constituents and the Cornell community as whole extends beyond the resolution. Collectively, the Student Assembly, organizations, clubs and the student body at-large have the power to influence change on campus.
The first step in taking advantage of this incredible synergy at Cornell is promoting the hybridization of entrepreneurial and political activities to identify and act on opportunities we recognize every day. Politician and entrepreneur, Andrew Yang, shares his ideology that “America’s communities need stronger entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurs need stronger support from government at all levels to remove barriers in their way.” Cornell’s communities need the same.
Dillon Eisman is the LGBTQIA+ Liaison At-Large for the Student Assembly and a senior in the Dyson School. Comments may be sent to [email protected]. Student Assembly Viewpoint runs every other Thursday this semester.