Alex Nagel/Sun Staff Photographer

Student representatives gather in a Student Assembly meeting to discuss campus issues.

January 30, 2023

Student Assembly Elects New VP of External Affairs, Shares Pollack’s Responses to Resolutions

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The Student Assembly held its first meeting of the spring semester on Thursday in Willard Straight Hall, where they discussed prior resolutions and held an election for the Vice President of External Affairs position. 

S.A. President Valeria Valencia ’23 started the meeting with University President Martha Pollack’s responses to the resolutions the assembly passed last semester. 

Valencia started with President Pollack’s response to Resolution 16: Condemning Greek Life. 

“A number of educational harm-reduction strategies for Greek Life are already being considered,” Pollack wrote. “Strategic work to improve the fraternity community is also underway.”

Valencia then said that she has not received a response to Resolution 15, which requested that the University funds an on-staff M.D. Gynecologist at Cornell Health.

The resolution recognized an editorial published in The Sun in which 136 students urged the University to provide funding for Cornell Health to hire a M.D. gynecologist capable of diagnosing and treating prevalent gynecological problems including chronic vulvovaginal and pelvic pain conditions. 

Valencia said she received an email explaining that President Pollack would take longer than usual to respond.

Resolutions 14 and 13 were also discussed.

Resolution 14 approved a thousand dollars to fund the Willard Straight Hall union board tradition of serving freshly popped popcorn in the Willard Straight Hall lobby.

Resolution 13 amended and ratified specifics of the S.A. bylaws regarding the Student Assembly Office of Ethics. 

For the last resolution discussed, Valencia shared President Pollack’s response to Resolution 12: Supporting Survivors and Facilitating Harm-Reduction Strategies in Greek Life in response to the reports of drugging incidents and a sexual assault allegation last semester. 

“I am horrified and repulsed by the reported events at our fraternities [throughout the Fall 2022 semester] and appreciate the Student Assembly’s concern,” Pollack wrote. “I fully support this resolution and in particular support the three specific harm-reduction strategies that they recommend.”

The first harm reduction strategy in the resolution is to redevelop and strengthen the sexual violence prevention programs by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life and Skorton Center for Health Initiatives

The second strategy explains that the SFL office and the Tompkins County Advocacy are exploring an expanded partnership. The Office of Institutional Equity and Title IX has also established many new resources in the last two years to increase capacity for both hearings and investigations and to coordinate support for victims, according to Pollack. 

Isaac Chasen ’23, director of elections, then announced the special elections for three vacant seats in the S.A.

The three seats were previously held by LGBTQIA+ Liaison At-Large Kelly Chan ’24, At-Large Representative Benjamin Luckow ’24 and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Representative JiHo Lee ’23. 

Students who want to run must gather 75 petition signatures by next Friday. If there is more than one candidate, there will be an election.

“If you know anyone who’s interested, reach out to them,” said Chasen. “This could be freshmen who ran for freshman representative seats and didn’t win, transfer students who ran for transfer representatives and didn’t win, bigs, littles, people in your clubs.”

To conclude the meeting, the S.A. moved into an executive session for the election of a new VP of External Affairs. During the executive session, community members left the room as the assembly voted on the two candidates, Bahram Mehretu ’26 and Veronica Lewis ’25.

The meeting ended with Lewis winning the election. 

“As vice president of external affairs, I’d like to communicate more to the student body on our initiatives. We’ve had some really important ones in the semester that have been a little overlooked,” Lewis said. “We recently got an OBGYN for Cornell Health and we funded a bikeshare for Cornell and the Ithaca community. I think this will be a great position for me to communicate with everyone.”