The Observer endorses candidates for USG executive elections

To be as fair as possible in choosing which candidates to endorse, The Observer’s Editorial Board chose a committee of staff members to interview all candidates running for Undergraduate Student Government (USG) executive positions, including those who are running unchallenged (Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion).

Our Endorsement Committee consisted of four select members of the Editorial Board: our Executive Editor, our Director of Print, our Opinion Editor and a Copy Editor.

All candidates presented strong cases for themselves, and each had different perspectives and experiences to bring to our campus. These endorsements are intended to highlight the candidates who we thought would best serve the needs of the undergraduate student constituency.


Maya Rao

In the race between Prince Ghosh, Maya Rao and Eliana Ondrejko, the Endorsement Committee endorses Rao for the position of president. The Endorsement Committee was impressed with Rao’s past work as the Vice President of Finance, where she worked—among other projects—on making the Finance Committee more initiative-based, with a strong emphasis on improving the experience for student organizations on campus. Rao’s future plans include a Disability Audit to help make all programs and events accessible to all students on campus, which we think is an important step toward making our campus more inclusive. The Endorsement Committee is also confident that Rao will be able to work well to push administrators to make the changes that our campus needs while still maintaining the relationships and trust she has built with them through her past experiences, which include sitting on the Faculty Senate for the Commission on the Undergraduate Experience (FSCUE). Rao believes that USG’s role is to work on issues that directly affect students, an idea which came through clearly in her plans to make USG General Assembly meetings more approachable, to start a forum for organization leaders and to hold question and answer sessions for students. Ultimately, we think that Rao is well equipped to listen to her constituency and to effectively serve the student body.


Vice President of Public Relations

Joey Kass

Joey Kass and Parv Sud both ran for Vice President of Public Relations, but we are choosing to endorse Kass. As a transfer student who has observed how student governments at other colleges work, Kass brings a fresh perspective to CWRU. Kass’ ideas for initiatives to improve USG’s presence on our campus are creative and well thought out. Kass wants to rebrand USG by focusing on how students can make the changes they need. Some of his ideas include adding a template for bills and resolutions to the USG website so that students can write their own bills and implementing a consortium of student organizations where the presidents and officers of every organization can attend. In terms of student engagement, Kass takes an approach of  “don’t ask, go after,” which he would implement through organizing focus groups of students from all backgrounds. Kass impressed the Endorsement Committee with a memorable closing statement during the debate, urging students to vote


Vice President of Student Life

Naveena Bontha

In the choice between Hersh Bhatt, Naveena Bontha and Paritosh Joshi, the Endorsement Committee will be endorsing Bontha. The Endorsement Committee was struck by Bontha’s passion for issues involving Title IX. Because she has worked directly with Title IX coordinator Darnell Parker, the Endorsement Committee is confident that Bontha will make strides toward reducing sexual misconduct on our campus. She plans to make sure that people are aware of CWRU’s sexual misconduct policy and the definition of consent. Bontha also plans to improve campus transportation by adding more stops on shuttle routes and to explore using CaseCash for apps like Uber and Lyft. Bontha is also very attuned to what students need in terms of wellness, especially in terms of reducing stress, which is a major source of dissatisfaction among students.


Vice President of Finance

Sydney Davis

Timothy O’Shea, Sydney Davis and Priyal Chadha ran for Vice President of Finance, and the Endorsement Committee is choosing to endorse Davis. Davis has worked as both a Treasurer of USG’s Finance Committee as well as a Chair of the Allocations Committee, giving her both internal and external knowledge and experience. Davis’ approach is to humanize the Finance Committee’s relationship with student groups, which the we think will be an effective means toward more clubs getting the resources they need. She presented the idea of funding that is based on the values of each organization. Davis also showed dedication to serving our campus, emphasizing the importance of revamping student storage space and mentioning that she would work on this even if not elected. The Endorsement Committee was also impressed with Davis’ suggestion that risk managers for student organizations could serve as drivers of a broader wellness initiative by looking out for members of the clubs.


Vice President of Academic Affairs

Radhika Duggal

Kareem Agag, Radhika Duggal and Morgan Wood ran for Vice President of Academic Affairs. The Endorsement Committee is endorsing Duggal, who is both knowledgeable and passionate about the state of Academic Affairs at CWRU. Duggal, who had a strong presence at the debate, understands that all decisions in Academic Affairs should be driven by what students need and is committed to collecting feedback to give to the Commision on the Undergraduate Experience (CUE) as it makes its final recommendations. Radhika is not afraid to make friends with administrators and has a strong relationship with the Associate Director of Student Information System (SIS). Duggal showed dedication to following through with all initiatives. Some of her personal goals include creating an online marketplace associated with the University where students can easily buy and sell textbooks and trying to bridge the gap between engineering and science students and humanities students.


Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion

Divya Manoharan

Divya Manoharan was the only candidate running for Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, but she made such a strong impression on the Endorsement Committee that we are choosing to endorse her anyway. Manoharan was involved in creating the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and served as its vice president last year as well, and her passion for her role is striking. Manoharan wants to foster a collaborative relationship between the Undergraduate Diversity Collective and USG, which we think is critical for giving underrepresented groups a voice on our campus. Her overarching goal is to stand with the people whose voices she wants to amplify. Manoharan has had success in the past in terms of pushing for students who are especially affected by socioeconomic policies have a seat at the table when meeting with administrators. Manoharan has a keen ear for the voices that are not being heard. She plans to implement a Diversity Audit to help make students more aware of diversity issues on our campus, with the reasoning that more awareness will intrinsically motivate people to seek out underrepresented voices.