The Student Governance Council had its annual spring platform presentations April 18 for candidates in the Spring 2023 election.
All current seats have expired for the upcoming semester, so if a council member wants to maintain their seat, they must run for re-election. This is the first election under the bill passed April 5 that restructured the executive council. Candidates previously had to run on a collective platform with four other candidates if they wished to serve on the board. Now candidates can run individually and hold a platform independently. Junior Carli McConnell and first-year student Matthew Williams are running against each other for the position of president of the student body.
McConnell, a double major in environmental studies and legal studies, is a member of the Student Organization Specialist Team, which she said has given her experience with student organizations and what they need to succeed. She says her platform is based on belonging, environmental sustainability and intersectionality across campus.
“My initiative is to really look into the City of Ithaca’s Green New Deal and the college’s own climate action plan and really hone in on what the college is doing and how we can promote intersectional sustainability and environmental justice through campus,” McConnell said. “Generally, I’m looking to create a safe space in the Student Governance Council where we can help build a greater environment for all.”
Williams, a business administration major, is currently serving on the board as a senator-at-large and working closely with the Center for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change to create the A Place Where YOU Belong Jumpstart Program. Williams said his platform focuses on activism for students of color and student engagement with alumni.
“Activism doesn’t just mean protests; activism has to do with acting, doing,” Williams said. “I want to establish a relationship between SGC and the Office of Student Engagement. … I want people to know their opportunities and enhance experiences.”
First-year student Rishabh Sen and sophomore Hannah Ahmed are running against each other for vice president of campus affairs.
Sen, a double major in chemistry and computer science, currently holds the vice president of campus affairs position while working on campus maintenance, student advocacy and student engagement. Sen said the aforementioned experience would help him accomplish his future goals of advising, advocacy and accessibility.
“I want to make SGC a known resource on campus,” Sen said. “We have the ability to connect students to different offices and different resources. … We can make that happen if we tell people we are here and we can make change.”
Ahmed, an exploratory major, is currently serving as a Class of 2025 senator. Ahmed based her platform on making students of color feel appreciated, included and wanted on campus, growing a stronger bond between faculty and students and making more community events like a prom.
“Right now on this campus we’re really divided and we really need to have a strong connection with them [faculty] or else our campus won’t grow,” Ahmed said.
Junior Quinn Tufino is a biochemistry major; the vice president of IC Genes; the treasurer of Spectrum, an LGBTQIA+ club on campus; and a teaching assistant for the Department of Biology who is running unopposed for vice president of academic affairs. Tufino said his platform focuses on expanding student access to pre-existing resources and integrating diversity, equity and inclusion into academic disciplines. Tufino said he would push for an overhaul of the current diversity ICC requirement.
“I think having the diversity elective allows students to have a more well-rounded education and promoting that is important,” Tufino said. “Personally I don’t think [the current ICC requirements for a diversity credit] does enough.”
Junior Noah Strathmann, vice president of business and finance for the SGC, is running for re-election with no opposition. Strathmann is also co-vice president of event management for IC After Dark. Strathmann said his platform focuses on making the funding process more accessible for all student organizations through legislation and advertising.
“I’d like to get our [Instagram] up and running again,” Strathmann said. “Getting word of mouth, emails and just trying our best to get the word out because we need more and more members [of the SGC].”
First-year student Caleb Cackowski, writing for film, television, and emerging media major, presented his platform unopposed for vice president of communications. Cackowski worked as an archivist for the DKA Film Society and designed several posters for DKA.
“We could partner with other campus organizations to help them and have a table at the event to talk to people there about SGC,” Cackowski said. “Some informal way to get to know [students] is good.”
Moving to the senate portion, junior Noah Kamens, a business administration major with sports management and marketing concentrations, is running for club athlete senator. Kamens said one of his goals would be to open up the SGC budget to club athletes.
Sophomore Cameron Small and first-year students Eleanor Paterson and Asata Rothblatt all ran for senators-at-large for their respective years unopposed because each class is allowed up to five senators-at-large. Rothblatt said she is running on a platform that focuses on improving mental health for students coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I had a hard time adjusting from COVID and I realized the more I talked to people that this was a common occurrence,” Rothblatt said. “I want to foster more student involvement.”
First-year student Lili Chalfant, a writing for film, television, and emerging media major, is running for re-election as School of Communications senator. Chalfant’s platform aims at working more closely with the Roy H. Park School of Communications to promote efficiency and inclusivity. One goal Chalfant has is to create a School of Communications Dean-Student Council.
“When I met with [Dean Amy Falkner], we spoke about diversity,” Chalfant said. “We want to have everyone’s needs met when making that [council].”
The transfer senator seat was added early in Fall 2022. Junior Blake Matthews, a psychology major, transferred to the college in Fall 2022 and is a newscaster for ICTV, as well as an orientation leader-in-training. Matthews said he noticed how the transfer orientation experience was lacking and needs to be restructured to be more effective.
“Did you know over 100 transfer students started in the fall and over 50 joined IC in the spring?” Matthews said. “People just don’t talk about it and it’s so stigmatized. … I want transfer students’ voices to be heard.”
First-year student Baneet Pukhrambam, a cinema and photography major, presented his platform for international senator. Pukhrambam is an international student from India who has been involved with the Campus Affairs Committee, served as an Engagement Scholar and is an office assistant in the Office of International Programs. Pukhrambam said he looks to expand international students’ voices on campus.
“My experiences are my experiences alone,” Pukhrambam said. “People like to group international students into one collective, but the fact is, we are very disconnected individuals. … My platform is to connect and collaborate with international students and listen to what they need in terms of a collective or an individual ask.”
The online voting page is located directly on the IC Engage page April 20 and 21 and is open to any student to vote. Before leaving, all candidates took a celebratory group photo and congratulated each other for the year and campaigns.