Editorial: Candidate endorsements for the 2023 USG elections


Editorial Board

The time has come for students at Case Western Reserve University to vote. 

While most here are primarily concerned with academics, our life as students goes beyond our classes. Much of our experience while at this university is dictated by amenities such as the number of events available to go to each weekend, club meetings, dining hall options, the availability of SafeRides and much more. These are all things our Undergraduate Student Government (USG) has a hand in. USG also works as a link between our student body and the CWRU administration, bringing our concerns about tuition costs, overpopulation, diversity, disability resources, housing and food options to the forefront. While they cannot directly control these things, USG is meant to ensure that administrators remain aware of the problems the student body faces. Our own peers work throughout the academic year to advocate for the student body and make our time here on campus the best it can be. This makes it vitally important that the right students, dedicated to service, become leaders within USG. 

Students have the ability to vote for USG candidates between April 14-15 at vote.case.edu. To help CWRU students make an informed decision, The Observer traditionally hosts a debate between candidates and endorses the ones we believe would be the best fits for their jobs. This practice was put on pause during the pandemic; however, there was non-interest last year, and ultimately, these debates were more or less Q&A sessions. Therefore, USG and The Observer jointly decided to transition the debate to one-on-one interviews. This change allowed for each candidate to more thoroughly explain their platform with more nuance. To ensure that these conversations are still publicly available, video recordings of all the interviews will be available on our YouTube channel. These interviews helped inform our endorsements, which were made after a vote by our Editorial Board. While we commend all candidates for stepping up and running for student leadership positions, we believe that the following candidates will be the best fits in their positions.

Vote Basil Yaseen for President

The president of USG is the most influential position within the CWRU student body, guiding the overall direction of our student government and acting as the main point of correspondence between the student body and CWRU administration, including President Kaler. For such a vitally important position, we are confidently endorsing third-year Basil Yaseen, the current Vice President of Finance. As VP of Finance, Yaseen has done much to streamline the club funding process—the aspect of USG that directly impacts the most students. He was also able to bring USG into compliance with the Student Executive Council regarding their finances and made the case for increasing USG’s budget by 18% so that they may fund even more clubs. As president he has committed to working to increase transparency at USG, make club funding more sustainable and work with the administration towards a model of indexed tuition, where scholarships increase as tuition does. Yaseen’s deep understanding of the issues facing USG and the student body make him an ideal candidate for president.

Vote Marlee Yancey for Vice President of Finance

While second-year Marlee Yancey is running unopposed to be the new VP of Finance, we still enthusiastically endorse her. With USG receiving 18% more funding next year, having a VP of Finance who will work to ensure that funding is distributed to clubs equitably is crucial. Thankfully Yancey understands this, having been on the Finance committee for two years and seen recent efforts to increase flexibility and ease the burden on club treasurers. She has also mentioned new rules that would make it harder for clubs that don’t plan on having long-term presences on campus from taking up funding from other student organizations. All this makes Yancey a great candidate to be the steward of finances for so many students at CWRU.

Vote Chize Ogbogu for Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are vitally important aspects of universities, with exposure to others with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives being essential to a proper education. CWRU is likely one of the most diverse environments that many students have ever experienced, but there will always be room for improvement—especially with affirmative action likely coming to an end and the Ohio state legislature moving to restrict diversity and inclusion-related training within universities. First-year Chize Ogbogu is a great candidate to face these issues and create a more accepting campus culture at CWRU. Having been a part of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, she worked to create the Student Advocacy Group (SAG)—a new initiative on campus that focuses on short-term crisis intervention and advocacy for students who experience sexual harassment. As VP she has committed to create new opportunities for minority students to meet each other, whether it be in a specialized residential community or at events for CWRU students to meet high schoolers from underrepresented communities. She has also focused on the need to have a more diverse faculty population, press the university on disability resources and create a thrift store-style resource for CWRU students to get essential goods for cheap. With her experience and ideas, Ogbogu would be a good fit for the position.

Vote Hayley Latta for Vice President of Academic Affairs

This year features multiple great and deserving candidates for the position of VP of Academic Affairs, all with many ideas to improve the CWRU classroom experience. In this case we have to give our endorsement to the most qualified candidate: third-year Hayley Latta. Latta has been part of the Academic Affairs committee for three years and was, in fact, previously the VP of Academic Affairs in fall 2022, but due to her studying abroad, she was required to resign. However, in her short time as VP, Latta worked on multiple initiatives that have come to fruition already—including creating a comprehensive list of humanities classes at CWRU and advising the Faculty Senate on the upcoming overhaul of the SAGES program. This time around she is focusing on aspects of the academic experience that CWRU students care most about, including making course registration easier, creating an archive of syllabi, advising on changes to the advisor and Navigator system and finding the right balance of new sections of classes and workload on professors as student populations increase. Her extensive experience in Academic Affairs and comprehensive understanding of students’ academic concerns all make Latta worthy of your vote.

Vote Mikhail Goldenberg for Vice President of Student Life

Second-year Mikhail Goldenberg is running unopposed this year and served in this same position last year, but is nonetheless deserving of your vote. Over the past year, the Student Life committee has worked to increase hours and change menus for dining options, increase student awareness of transportation options and expand mental health resources under Goldenberg’s leadership. With CWRU getting a new head of Student Affairs, it’s even more important that the USG VP of Student Life is experienced and able to properly convey the campus-life issues the student body is facing. As he would be in the position for a second year, Goldenberg would be adept at communicating with CWRU administration—allowing him to hopefully guide the new Student Affairs administration in an effective way and make progress on his initiatives.

The Editorial Board could not come to a consensus for Vice President of Communications

While USG does much great work for CWRU, much of the time the student body is completely unaware. Transparency from USG has been inadequate this past year, with the Public Access drive containing all USG agendas, minutes and resolutions being inaccessible to the student body due to an accidental deletion. Additionally the “Initiative Tracker” listed on the USG website has not been updated since 2021, making it tough for CWRU students to actually know what their representatives are working on. However, the Editorial Board was split between the candidates Tasfiqur Rob and Zeynep Bastas and were unable to make a decisive endorsement for the best future VP of Communications. We hope whoever is elected is able to address these concerns and build a better relationship between USG and the student body.

All in all, student elections are a crucial component of the daily lives of students here at CWRU. They provide an opportunity for us to actively participate in the democratic process and shape the direction of our institution. This is our chance to choose the representatives who will advocate for us and make a meaningful impact in our campus community. We hope that you will vote for candidates that you believe in and that our endorsements help guide you in making that decision.