To be as fair and objective as possible in the endorsement process, a committee of select staff members of The Observer, chosen by the editorial board, interviewed all candidates running for Undergraduate Student Government executive positions, excluding those who are running unchallenged (i.e., president, vice president of public relations and vice president of information technology).
The committee chose not to endorse a candidate in the vice president of student life race because one of the candidates, Mary Kate Macedonia, is a staff photographer for The Observer. The committee members were chosen with the intention of providing the most comprehensive representation of the Case Western Reserve University student body. Among the interviewers were first-, second- and third-year students, a transfer student and an international student. The editorial board populated the committee with students of diverse backgrounds to ensure the candidates were evaluated through multiple lenses.
All of the candidates brought something different to the table, and thus the decision to endorse any candidate does not mean that the other candidates were meritless. The intention of this editorial is to showcase those qualified candidates who we felt would best serve their undergraduate student constituency.
Chief Judicial Officer
In the race between representative Kerrik Woyshner, Adam Younger and Xiaoyi Ren, the editorial board endorses Woyshner for the position of chief judicial officer. Out of the three candidates running for the position, Woyshner demonstrated the most knowledge of what the position entails, as well as specific ideas to improve the position and its influence among the student body and the members of USG. He had spent the most time researching for the position by talking to the previous chief judicial officers and familiarizing himself with the USG constitution and bylaws. Woyshner referenced reaching out to student leaders and collecting feedback from them about current legislation, an idea that would be warmly welcomed by campus organizations.
The endorsement committee interviewed the two other candidates, Ren and Younger, and expressed excitement that students without prior USG experience were motivated to run for the position. But, the committee felt they both needed more preparation with USG’s operations before assuming an executive position. The editorial board would be more than content to see these two candidates involve themselves with USG in the future.
Vice President of Finance
In the race between Treasurer Chippy Kennedy and Representative Ali Mahmoud, the editorial board endorses Kennedy. Kennedy impressed the board with his ideas for easing the funding and reimbursement process, particularly his goal to use his computer science background to bring the arduous system into a new era.
He was open to experimenting with how students could get the money they needed; he dreamed of a system where students could possibly send in receipts virtually to speed along the reimbursement process. Kennedy also had a better grasp than Mahmoud on how the Student Activities Fee and Student Executive Council worked, a critical quality for securing the funding USG, and therefore each student group, requires. Additionally, Kennedy was not as complacent as Mahmoud, and was more apt to offer ideas.
However, the endorsement committee was impressed with Mahmoud’s honesty and willingness to admit concerns regarding how the finance committee presently operates. But Kennedy’s ideas, and experience working directly with student groups as USG’s social service and special service treasurer, steered the decision in his favor.
Vice President of Academic Affairs
In the race between incumbent Xiaoyu Li, Representative Nishant Uppal and Representative Arjun Gopinath, the editorial board endorses Uppal. Uppal was extremely informed and passionate about the variety of issues that face the student body in the sphere of academics.
Uppal believes that MediaVision is a critical tool for students and is unwilling to accept a lack of funding as a reason for the lack of expansion on this project. He passionately spoke about the lack of workload standardization across department courses, as well as the varying difficulty between different offerings of the same class. Uppal believes the best way to tackle problems involves the committee collaboration process, as opposed to one-on-one time between the vice president and the representatives. He believes that initiatives could be pursued better with the use of peer feedback and assistance through teamwork.
The board was impressed with the work already done by Li as the current vice president of academic affairs, but we believe that Uppal, with his fresh perspective, could give the committee the jump-start it needs on initiatives that have been stymied by administrative obstacles. We were interested in the exciting ideas proposed by Gopinath, but believe that Uppal’s experience within the committee will help the organization hit the ground running in the coming semester.
Vice President of Student Life
The editorial board abstains from making a formal endorsement of this position because one of the candidates contributes to our publication. However, we do believe that some critical issues separate representative Mary Kate Macedonia and representative Jacob Ma in this race. Macedonia is focused primarily on campus safety, as her primary initiative during her time with USG has tackled pedestrian and bike safety. During our interview, she spoke about mental health issues on campus including the common diagnosis of student stress and the need of administration to address this issue directly.
Ma focused more on the role of the student life committee to ensure that students have an enjoyable experience on campus; he wants to ensure students recognize the current methods available to provide critical feedback and input on campus services. His current work as a member of USG involves improving the shuttle transportation tracking system, potentially doing away with NextBus in favor of a more reliable feedback tool.
Both representatives seemed to focus attention on internal committee practices and procedures. While this is a critical aspect of the organization, The Observer hopes that whoever assumes this position places priority on the welfare of the entire student body, and not on the social benefits of committee time.