Benjamin Tooke


Benjamin Tooke (VP of Student Life)

Name: Benjamin Tooke

Year: Sophomore

Major: Biochemistry

Running for: VP of Student Life

What are your plans for this position?
A detailed outline of my plans is available in my letter of intent. I want the Student Life committee to be student focused and results driven. As VP, I would like to create an atmosphere that inspires my committee members to put their best efforts forwards when pursuing progress on an initiative. I am a firm believer that more impact can be had when those involved are passionate about their work and not simply running through the steps. I really want to see Student Life discuss diversity/inclusion issues that face the campus today and collaborate with UDC since our missions overlap in many ways. Another central goal of mine is to continue researching and changing the Greenie and SafeRide systems so that students can actually benefit from these services that have so much potential. It’s an arduous process, but one that can be improved with hard work and dedication seen in previous years.

What is one initiative that you want to complete in your first semester?
Student Life is made up of many individuals who are pursuing a myriad of projects, and as VP I would like to see each of them complete action steps that will get them closer to completing an entire initiative. I am eager to help and guide each of them as they work on topics that they are personally passionate about. I would really like to see the committee take up the hard work done by previous representatives on the transportation systems around campus, and implement some type of comprehensive reform to the structure that can take away the headaches or riding a greenie or requesting a SafeRide.

How can school spirit be improved on campus?
The establishment of BlueCWRU has already been beneficial to this campus in its attempts to foster Spartan pride. As they gain more traction, I think we will see their events and initiatives take off. The school spirit we all want exists, it just needs to have direction. Many students love CWRU, and they show it in their coursework and extracurricular activities. What we have to work on is how to get people to outwardly show their appreciation and spirit for the school, whether that’s through discounts at the bookstore or pep rallies and advertised cook outs before big sporting events. The avenues are available, there just needs to be concerted and focused effort into getting students to proudly represent their school.

Should CWRU go tobacco-free?
In my opinion, the university should adopt a tobacco free policy. Many of our peer institutions have these policies in place, and I have always been a firm believer that smoking affects more than just the individual making that decision. When walking down the street on campus, you cannot choose whether or not you want to breathe in second hand smoke, its inevitable and harmful to you. So whether or not you make the decision to smoke, your health is being adversely affected by others’ decisions around you. I am not saying the issue is cut and dry; it certainly is not. There are of course cultural differences that exist between CWRU students, and in some of those cultures, smoking is a common and accepted behavior. When the university, with the help of USG and UDC, comes up with a comprehensive tobacco free plan that addresses implementation, compliance, and cessation resources, then we can discuss how to bridge the cultural gap with smoking specific to the policy. It is difficult to figure how all of these variables interact and how they will be affected without having more structure in our ideas than we do now.

How can campus transportation be improved?
As stated above, this issue is one that I have been working on for a long time. My first initiative in USG ended in the addition of a fourth SafeRide vehicle during peak hours of the night. Transportation on this campus is tricky, so much so that Student Life seems have continuous initiatives involving Greenies and SafeRide.The key here is to continue pushing and doing the hard work that many older reps have done on transportation. It is slow moving and involves a lot of talk about university money, but I have found that student feedback is the most powerful tool we have in administrator meetings. Faculty and Staff do not know all of the nuances of being a student here, and saying students “feel” a certain way with no data is hard to back up. I encourage student to use BusBuzz, a USG project, so that we can continue to gather data on the transportation and take it to the university. There needs to be more of a student showing so that we can prove to the university that investment in fixing and planning transportation is a priority for this campus. Change will come, but with this issue, it requires a lot of data seeking and time spent benchmarking other institutions for pointers.