BAR wants better minority lounge
The candidates on Raising the BAR want to raise Student Government (SG) to a new level.
"SG has a lot of potential. It's time that SG starts doing all the things it's capable of doing," said Robert Hubbard, a second-year in the College and the slate's presidential candidate. "We have the experience and the drive."
The slate's primary goal will be to secure a better space for the Amandla Center, a minority student lounge currently housed in the mezzanine level of Harper. They hope to provide better storage and office space for cultural organizations.
"Fostering a community between the minority groups on campus is essential," Hubbard said.
Hubbard was quick to note that he is the only presidential candidate with SG experience, and that he has served two years on both the College Council and the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC). The slate hopes to add an RSO leader to SGFC.
"Everyone who sits on there is from College or Graduate Council," Hubbard said. "Most of those people don't have experience in planning an event and drafting a budget."
Vice presidential candidate Ananya Das, who has drafted several budgets as a board member of the South Asian Student Association, said she would like to make the SGFC allocations more public. Though the information is currently posted online, she would also like to use the SG poster board space in the Reynolds Club to advertise SGFC meeting minutes.
"It's not privileged information and I feel that a lot of RSOs feel it's exclusive information," Das said.
The candidates want to create an SG fundraising body to help generate more revenue throughout the year.
"As a student government, it's easier to get corporate sponsorship," Das said.
They'd also like to help RSOs become more self-reliant by allowing them to keep their profits instead of requiring them to give the money to SGFC.
The slate features the only graduate student running on an executive slate?Bret Kadison, a first-year at the Graduate School of Business (GSB). Kadison's concern is the lack of interaction between undergraduate and graduate students and among the different graduate divisions and schools. He would like to organize more social events for graduate students and establish an informal mentoring program with the College.
"For example, with the business school, there's a huge opportunity," Kadison said. "So many people here want to go into banking or business?most people in the GSB have done this already."
Kadison would also like to use his business experience to work with the administration to establish an overarching University brand.
"I think the U of C brand is terribly leveraged. It doesn't stand for any one specific thing," he said. "The U of C could be anything that it wants."
You can read more about Raising the BAR at www.rtbar.com
Charming will improve SG's image
For Mustafa Domanic, Sheera Talpaz, and P.J. Okocha, it's all about community.
If elected, This Charming Slate members will promote better relations with the surrounding community and encourage more community service projects. They intend to use their influence on SGFC to make funding for RSO service projects easier. Also, they would like to see a more consistent SGFC policy and better planning in order to avoid running out of money early in spring quarter.
"We think SGFC had the wrong policy this year," Domanic, a second-year in the College and presidential candidate, said. "We want to see it more consistent."
The slate members would like to improve communication between the executive slate and SGFC to call for more community outreach, as well as more funding for RSOs in general.
"It doesn't have to be a sweeping overhaul. It just has to be refining what we have and making things better for students and the community," Talpaz said.
Talpaz stressed how the closing of Shoreland Hall would affect businesses in the area, and said the University should be sensitive to this issue and plan for options that include an inhabited Shoreland.
Domanic, Talpaz, and Okocha also want to improve SG's image on campus by increasing publicity of SG-sponsored events.
"With most students, their experience tells them that SG doesn't affect their lives," Domanic said. "But it does have an effect if the job is done properly."
Because of This Charming Slate's community focus, the members say the current slate has moved in the wrong direction by advocating for a shuttle to the 55th Street Red Line stop. "We think the Red Line Shuttle is just another thing that will alienate students even more," Domanic said.
"I think our goals are universal?we're here to improve the campus and community," Talpaz said.
You can read more about This Charming Slate at www.thischarmingslate.com
Union slate calls for transparency
The three members of the Slate of the Union each represent a different goal for their campaign.
Presidential candidate Milca Pierre wants to improve relationships between students and the administration by establishing quarterly administrative roundtables so that students could "speak to the president and deans over dinner to get their points across."
Pierre would also like to expand complaints.uchicago.edu to incorporate student petitions.
Pierre, who has been active with the Provost's Initiative on Minority Issues (PIMI), hopes to lobby for more programs geared towards minority student retention. With PIMI, she's spent the past year looking at diversity programs at other universities and comparing them to those of the University. "We found that in our program, we do nothing further to retain those minority students," she said.
Cameron Downing, a third-year in the College and the vice presidential candidate for administration, is focusing on transparency in Student Government. According to Downing, the SGFC meeting minutes should be posted online, along with an online submission program to make it easier for RSO leaders to apply for funding.
Downing, a College Council member, would also like to standardize College and Graduate Council meeting times and locations, which he said where held on different days and in various rooms this year. According to Downing, a reevaluation of the evening bus routes is in order, especially the A route, which he said runs on an odd 40-minute schedule that could be shortened to a 30-minute route. In addition, he'd like to increase efficiency in the late-night van service by focusing on cooperation between drivers. "The way they have the system set up right now doesn't allow them to coordinate," he said. "Even just getting them a set of walkie talkies would help."
Aarthi Sowrirajan, a three-year board member of the South Asian Students Association, hopes to serve as a liaison between RSO leaders and SG to foster a better sense of community among student leaders. As vice president of student affairs, she'd like to encourage SG members to attend RSO board meetings as a step towards creating better communication between the two groups. She'd also like to set up SGFC information sessions to help RSO leaders navigate the funding process.
Sowrirajan hopes to improve communication between SG and athletes as well, by creating an athletic advisory board to help publicize athletic events. "We have a full house at UT and Fire Escape events; we should have a full house at athletic events too," she said.
Finally, the slate hopes to address students' concerns with rising health insurance costs. According to Downing, the University has restricted the health committee's options to Chickering, but he would like to see if other companies might make more competitive offers.
Downing also talked about incorporating students from Save Our Student Health Insurance (SOSHI) in the discussion. "There are enough students who felt they weren't being heard to go outside of Graduate Council and set up their own RSO," he said.
Moose Party wants beer for all
The Moose Party claims that SG is a giant conspiracy. "They're hiding weapons of mass destruction all over campus. We want to replace those WMDs with WMIs," said presidential candidate Alex Stepick. "Weapons of Mass Intoxication!"
The Moose platform argues that all the bell towers on campus are missile silos. The group said it hopes to dispose of missiles and "turn the towers into the world's largest, most powerful beer bongs by turning the bells upside down and connecting fire-hoses."
"Obviously, we'll need to bulldoze the old GSB building, by old I mean new, to build the helipad for the choppers which will be used to fill the beer bongs," they added.
They say their research shows that there is a sub-basement to the Reynolds Club where SG "oversees small children while they manufacture biological agents," adding the claim that SG "kills babies" by the masses. To resolve the dilemma, they have offered to replace the sub-basement bio-lab with a sub-basement distillery.
Their campaign features such ideological slogans as:"We don't want to kill toddlers! We want to flood the campus with moonshine! We will turn the ice skating rink into a vodkasicle rink!"
Vice-presidential candidate for administration Claudio Gonzalez noted that vodka does not freeze. Stepick promptly responded, "It will now!" He added that if the Moose Party were to be elected, all the statues on campus would be turned into beer fountains. "We'll use the chemistry department's weather machine to make it snow peppermint schnapps," screamed Stepick. "We will intoxicate the masses."
They emphasized over anything else on their platform the fact that they will be holding a "victory party" on Saturday, May 8.
Grad student liaison position vacant
Just one candidate's name will appear on the ballot for the Student Government (SG) position of student liaison to the Board of Trustees, despite the fact that the student body voted last year to establish two liaisons to represent both graduate and undergraduate students.
Third-year in the College Rush Atkinson is the only candidate whose name will appear on the ballot for the undergraduate position. While his name will not appear on the ballot, graduate student Bernard C. Dorsey is running for the graduate position as a write-in candidate.
According to Atkinson, the Election and Rules Committee extended the petition deadline for the graduate position twice.
The current liaison, Jesse Ehrenfeld, a third-year medical student, proposed establishing two liaisons after he realized he could not adequately address undergraduate concerns. The liaison acts as a student representative to the Board of Trustees and meets with them regularly.
"The position itself is an ambassadorial position," Atkinson said. "It's mostly a way for the students to communicate through a representative to the Board of Trustees."
Atkinson believes the student liaison should be well rounded and be willing to serve as a representative instead of pushing an agenda. He is a varsity soccer player and a member of the Order of the C, as well as an intern with the Human Rights program. Atkinson is also a member of several focus groups, including the Maroon Key Society.
Dorsey is concerned with financial aid and bringing the student body closer to the Hyde Park community.
"In general, I hope that I can provide a strong and reasonable voice to the trustees on behalf of U of C students," Dorsey said. "The bottom line is that this position doesn't have much SG authority, but it is a position that is fairly visible to the trustees and to the administration. I would like to be able to make the most out of the position by being as vocal as possible with trustees and the administration on issues that concern current and future students the most."