Editorial: The Observer endorses Tooke, Nicholas and Rao for the USG Elections

The Observer endorses candidates running in the elections for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). Elections run from Thursday, April 13 to April 14. Voting can be done through OrgSync.

We endorsed candidates through a select committee of the Editorial Board: The Executive Editor, Director of Print and the Opinion Editor chose the candidate to endorse, while the Sports Editor, who moderated the debates, and News Editor had the chance to voice their advice. Those interested in making a difference on campus should cast a vote.

We chose to endorse candidates for the Vice President of Student Life and the Vice President of Finance because those elections based on issues, but despite the position’s similarity to the others, chose to not endorse any candidate for Vice President of Academic Affairs. We also, for the first time in a while, endorsed a candidate for the Vice President of Public Relations position, due to the number of critical initiatives in progress in parallel and the importance of student input on them. We also commented on the President position; we were disappointed there was only one candidate for the position.

We were impressed by the amount of work the candidates were willing to perform for a chance to serve and represent the student body. We hope all of them find a way to have their suggestions and ideas heard and be able to work in USG next year. The Observer hopes that a large portion of the student body votes and wishes good luck to all candidates running in the election.


Vice President of Student Life: Benjamin Tooke

For Vice President of Student Life, we looked for someone who can support the representatives that work with them and push to resolve transportation and security issues.

For these reasons, we have decided to endorse Benjamin Tooke. He brings three years of experience within Undergraduate Student Government as the Secretary of the General Assembly, and has served as a representative on the Student Life Committee.

Tooke displays a willingness to support other representatives on the Student Life Committee. He plans to take a step back and allow the representatives on the committee to continue to choose the initiatives that interest them the most. This allows for the individuals on the committee to grow in their roles and take on larger tasks in USG in the coming years. It provides the boost of confidence necessary for younger members to thrive.

Furthermore, Tooke also has a practical vision to quickly address pertinent issues. Aside from overseeing the committee, he plans to continue his push for diversity and inclusion, improvements in safety and security, and transportation all within the first semester.

He also plans to reinstate a system that allows for quicker discussion with campus administrators, rather than going through the lengthy legislative process.


Vice President of Academic Affairs: No endorsement

For the Vice President of Academic Affairs, we were looking for a candidate who wants to increase student awareness and takes initiative in the position.

We find both of the candidates to be similar in many respects, which has led us to endorse neither Prince Ghosh nor Jonathan Stebbins.  

On one hand, Ghosh has had experience within Undergraduate Student Government in his current role, but he has not incorporated students’ voices enough in his role. Stebbins comes without experience in USG but with passion to increase student’s voices in academic decisions at the university. However, voters should know his lack of experience could possibly hurt the initiatives he and his committee take on to accomplish his goals.

Both candidates concurred in judgment amongst many issues. The bottom line is this: Students need to have a greater voice in this area that they can be confident will represent them accurately.


Vice President of Public Relations: Timothy Nicholas

For this position, we sought someone who could continue to increase student involvement and can think outside the box to get more done.

With three years of experience in Undergraduate Student Government as a representative on the Public Relations Committee, Judicial Officer, Elections Commissioner and as the current Vice President of Public Relations, Tim Nicholas receives our endorsement for his return to the position. As the current VP of PR, Nicholas has displayed a dedication to connecting the student body to USG.

To increase student’s voice in government, Nicholas oversaw the implementation of the USG online concern box, where students can leave feedback as well as critique ongoing issues around campus. On his watch, the new initiative tracker has also been rolled out, allowing increased visibility into the progress of initiatives.

Although student involvement in USG has increased, a sizable portion of the student body still remains unengaged or uninformed. Nicholas has shown the desire, ambition and drive to succeed in the position, and we think he deserves another term to accomplish his goals and increase USG’s presence on campus.


Vice President of Finance: Maya Rao

For Vice President of Finance, we were looking for a leader with experience who could work with organizations to meet their needs and help them budget. Should a reform of the constitution of the Student Presidents Roundtable pass, the position would also be charged with training a new Student Executive Council Allocations Committee.

Maya Rao receives our endorsement due to her outlined commitment to increasing transparency and becoming a resource for groups that are funded by USG. She sees the position as the fulcrum for USG-funded groups. The position is susceptible to be dormant, so the enthusiasm Rao brings as well as her interactive plans make her a great candidate to oversee finance in the upcoming academic school year.

Rao has also worked in USG for all of her four semesters at CWRU as a First-Year Representative, Treasurer and a member of the Finance Committee.

Voters should know that the other candidate, Justin Lee, refused to participate in the USG Debate hosted by The Observer. In his letter of intent, he wrote just one sentence declaring his intentions to run for the position, promising that it wasn’t a joke.


President of Undergraduate Student Government: Ivy Petsinger

Current Vice President of Student Life, Ivy Petsinger, will be running uncontested for President of USG. Still, we endorse her run, as she has shown herself to be a candidate who will work hard and put students first. She has a vision for USG and through listening to her predecessors and those they have worked with, is willing to learn to ensure that she succeeds in the position.