Student executives finish year, reflect
For Sean Weinstock and Adi Jain, California natives and high school classmates, their long journey together and year as leaders of Carnegie Mellon has ended.
As of Thursday’s Student Senate meeting, Weinstock and Jain officially passed on the reins of Carnegie Mellon leadership, and they could not have been more relieved.
Weinstock, a senior business administration major, and Jain, a senior electrical and computer engineering and business administration major, former student body president (SBP) and student body vice president (SBVP), respectively, have been in office only since September, yet have deemed their time in office a true success.
For Weinstock and Jain, their relief comes with a pride in their accomplishments as a team and their advances for the Student Senate as a body.
Still, their terms in office have been strenuous, and the two are glad to gain back some of their former freedom.
“I’ve been smiling for the past week and a half,” Weinstock said.
“It just feels good to be done,” Jain added.
Weinstock and Jain began their campaign last March with a clearly defined set of goals through CMU5, a set of specific initiatives they set out to accomplish in their term.
They saw these set initiatives as an important step in campaigning, noting that this year’s winners, Jared Itkowitz and Pooja Godbole, SBP and SBVP, respectively, also had a tangible and specific goal set.
Itkowitz, a senior business administration and Chinese studies double major, and Godbole, a sophomore business administration major, initiated seven main areas of focus in their platform, CMUnity.
“Initially, our goal was to change the way campaigns are done [to increase practicality],” Weinstock said. “The winning campaign this year had a practical agenda, and I’ve already heard Senate talking about practical goal setting.”
The two noted the large margin by which Itkowitz and Godbole won out over their competitors. For Weinstock and Jain’s elections, the margin was much slimmer. To Weinstock and Jain, this large margin means that students really know that they want.
However, Weinstock noted that many of CMU5’s goals were long-term, with results not necessarily being seen right away.
The institutional memory and President’s Dinner Forum initiatives, for example, will be continued and further developed under Itkowitz and Godbole.
However, for Weinstock and Jain, their biggest change is not in CMU5 or in a specific goal they accomplished, but rather in a change in the mindset of student government and of the student body’s opinions of it.
“We’ll probably be remembered as the ones who started student government onto its tipping point,” Weinstock said. “People will ask in coming years who started it, and I think that’s us.”
The reference to student government on its “tipping point” was used by all the candidates in this year’s elections, and refers to the increase in visibility and more effective goal-setting of the government among the student body.
Weinstock and Jain attributed much of their ability to broaden the scope of student government to Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon.
“Cohon makes sure students are first,” Jain said.
Weisntock and Jain spoke of such efforts as Cohon’s as allowing the two to introduce John McCain when he came to campus April 15, in addition to personally introducing them to McCain after the ceremony as the leaders of the university.
Weinstock was also part of a two-man welcome committee charged with welcoming Michelle Obama to campus three weeks ago.
Weinstock and Jain also expressed optimism in the leaders of next year’s Senate, likening the complimentary roles of Godbole and Itkowitz to themselves.
Weinstock compared his own former Senate experience to Itkowitz’s, noting that due to his extensive time and leadership in the body, Itkowitz is even more prepared than he was upon taking office.
Itkowitz served on Senate since the first weeks of his first year at Carnegie Mellon. He also served as a committee head, and has been the body’s chair for the past two semesters.
Jain likened his own experiences to Godbole’s.
“Like me, most of Pooja’s experience is in cultural organizations,” Jain said. “I think this outside experience helps to bring in new ideas and perspectives to Senate.”
Godbole’s greatest leadership experience came in her organization of the first-ever Bhangra in the ’Burgh, a dance contest in celebration of Indian culture.
Weinstock expressed his hopes that Itkowitz and Godbole will continue to expand the role of Student Senate.
“Student government often gets locked up in its scope,” Weinstock said. “So it’s good to have an outsider [like Godbole]. I’m excited to see what they are going to do.”
Weinstock and Jain said that they will miss their roles in student government, as well as the atmosphere of Carnegie Mellon in general.
“I feel like Carnegie Mellon is at a tipping point as well,” Jain said. “It’s become increasingly more global and prestigious. But, it still has an atmosphere where students can actually change the future of where the university is headed, even in 20 or 30 years.”
Jain expressed a hope that Carnegie Mellon does not lose this quality where students make effectual change, in which it reaches new heights as a university.
Weinstock agreed with Jain, saying that he expects the university to continue to foster student change.
“We’re all fighters [as students at Carnegie Mellon],” Weinstock said. “It’s in our DNA.”
As a last testament of their time in office and legacy, Weinstock and Jain will release their own issue of The Gavel, a traditional student government newsletter that has been lost in recent years, by the end of the term.
The headline on their time in office will read, “We’re a start,” referring to the legacy they hope to leave behind as the ones who pushed student government to itsinitiatives they set out to accomplish in their term.