Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees
For the position of Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees, the Maroon endorses current incumbent Tomás Alvarenga. A third-year in the College majoring in economics and statistics, Alvarenga served in the same position beginning Winter Quarter of this year after winning a closed SG election for a replacement. He demonstrated a strong understanding of the duties of the position—namely, communicating with members of the Board of Trustees on behalf of students and making a reasonable and substantiated case for any causes which need presenting. Though he did not have a platform of student issues, Alvarenga made it very clear that he felt his own stances are not relevant to the position. As such, his focus is on communicating with undergraduates and gathering statistics to give “heft” to any grievances he brings to the Board. He identified the house system—naturally a large institution on campus—and the elected leadership of houses as a means of gathering data and student input.
While other candidates expressed a desire to see Liaisons be granted a vote in future Board proceedings, Alvarenga holds the view that a vote is not as important as strengthening the position and its voice—after all, the Board will always be able to outvote a single student. Instead, it is more immediately important to focus on presenting the strongest possible student voice to the Board, something on which Alvarenga has his sights set firmly.
The other two candidates for Undergraduate Liaison—Rohan Manthani and Chet Lubarsky—have enumerated more perceived student issues that Alvarenga. Manthani is running a joint campaign with Community and Government Liaison candidate Raymond Dong, with whom he shares a platform. Lubarsky has discussed the intriguing possibility of trying to start a fund affiliated with the Board modeled on the Dean’s Fund. However, the Maroon feels that only Alvarenga demonstrated that he would commit to reasonably expanding the Liaison’s responsibilities.
Emily Wang recused herself from the endorsement process for the Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees.
Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees
For the position of Graduate Student Liaison to the Board of Trustees, the Maroon endorses Kathryn Hagerman, a second-year in the joint M.A./M.P.P. program in the Harris School and Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Hagerman demonstrated an awareness of graduate student issues including child care, health benefits, and employee pay that she especially wanted to focus on. Though it may not be feasible to tackle all of these problems, as they affect graduate students on a national level, Hagerman has honed in on the issues that are most pressing to current graduate students. Hagerman also wants to increase accessibility, and plans to hold a regular open forum in order to communicate more easily with students. She also emphasized her contact with a variety of students both north and south of the Midway, and hoped to use her past experience in human resources to help her communicate with students from a wide range of backgrounds.
While the other candidate, second-year law student Osama Hamdy, has past experience serving as a Residential Assistant and aiding with SG campaigns while an undergrad at Berkeley, he did not demonstrate the same level of understanding of issues plaguing graduate students. Hamdy failed to provide concrete suggestions or identification of problem areas, instead emphasizing his accessibility and non-specific plans to talk to students. He did, however, exhibit a high level of professionalism and a commitment to communicating with students in order to determine their desires and effectively bring them to the Trustees. A particularly laudable feature of Hamdy’s platform was his interest in gathering a body of institutional knowledge in order to better define the liaison position in the future.
Community and Government liaison
For the office of Community and Government liaison, the Maroon endorses first-year Raymond Dong. Dong, who currently serves as a representative for the class of 2015 on College Council, exhibited a thorough understanding of the duties of the position, which was created two years ago in an attempt to bridge tensions between the student body and the wider community. His platform is extremely comprehensive, and focuses on initiatives like dining staff recognition, joining the Washington Park Advisory Council, connecting community service RSOs for large-scale events, and bringing local aldermen to campus for open forums. These ideas all contribute to the overarching purpose of uniting students with larger service opportunities in Hyde Park and Chicago, and Dong displayed much-needed foresight in terms of already contacting other liaisons and administrators to ensure these ideas were feasible. Other goals, like expanding the University’s Days of Service program, build on already-extant initiatives, providing a good balance between large, optimistic projects and smaller, more targeted changes.
The other candidate, second-year Grace Park, is by no means lacking in experience, qualifications, and vision. Citing her leadership roles in community-oriented projects like Homeless Outreach, ER volunteer services, and various Christian ministries, Park is running on a powerful platform that emphasizes an “attitude of service” and aims to “reconcile relationships of students and South Side Chicago.” Though these are commendable goals, Park hasn’t articulated the same specificity of intent as Dong, and many of her objectives seem too broad to be feasible. Enthusiasm is an integral part in a position that is so deeply rooted in community service, but more grounded plans are required for efforts to be productive.
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