Today, Cornell students will get their best chance to glimpse into the future of the Student Assembly. At the Candidate Forum (5 p.m. in G76 Goldwin Smith Hall), candidates for each seat will present a brief statement about their platforms, then field questions about anything and everything the audience can come up with. Audience members should not be led astray by artificial campaign promises like ending budget cuts or tuition increases — these proposals fall far outside the S.A.’s sphere of influence, and are almost as useless as a resolution to improve Ithaca's weather. However, the S.A. is an influential body, and there are many questions its constituents can and should be asking to best ensure their interests are represented in next year's Assembly.
Internal Reform: The S.A. and its proceedings are frequently criticized on this page as inefficient, misguided or just plain useless. Do candidates, especially those running for President and Executive Vice President, have plans to change the way the body operates? Do they seem like logical steps forward, or are they superficial changes that increase the bureaucracy without decreasing the inefficiencies?
Combating Discrimination: The contentious Non-Discrimination Clause (Resolution 44) passed last Thursday by a one-vote margin. It is a misplaced stab at a worthy target, and in dire need of further refinement. Which candidates, if any, have constructive ideas about how best to combat discrimination by student organizations without encroaching on the rights of freedom of expression?
Distribution of the Student Activity Fee: Currently set at $102 per student per semester, the Student Activity Fee is one of the most important tools in the S.A.’s arsenal. Most of the funding is allocated to by-line funded groups, which will not be up for review under the incoming S.A. However, about 37 percent (roughly $75.48 per student per year) is allocated by the Student Assembly Finance Commission to several hundred student organizations. Where does your $75 go? Who has the final say? Could it better serve you and your interests?
Campus Life: Housing, dining and similar activities are areas in which the S.A. has considerable influence, and candidates should have specific plans in mind to serve their constituents and the undergraduate population as a whole. The recent housing reform resolutions, which gave sophomores priority in the housing lottery and created in-house lottery systems for the Collegetown dorms, are excellent examples of productive uses of the S.A.’s legislative power. Which candidates have campus life-related platforms that would improve your life on a day-to-day basis?
Today's forum is no guarantee that the next delegates to the Student Assembly will enact meaningful progress. But by showing up and asking the tough, relevant questions that need to be asked, students can hopefully identify which candidates will best serve their constituency and the University.