Student elections approach
Junior mechanical engineering and public policy major Jake Flittner and sophomore materials science and biomedical engineering major Sangita Sharma are running against juniors in materials science and biomedical engineering Turi Alcoser and Kelsey Briggs, respectively, in the race for student body president and student body vice president.
In addition to the positions of student body president and vice president, candidates for vice presidential positions for finance and for organizations are up for election. Junior business administration major My Le is running unopposed for student body vice president of finance. Senior social and decision sciences major Meghan Nahass, junior computer science major Will Zhang, and sophomore general MCS student Varun Deshpande are all running for student body vice president of organizations.
Student government has also put a non-binding referendum regarding Carnegie Mellon’s participation in the Collegiate Readership Program on the ballot. The Collegiate Readership Program provides copies of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The New York Times, and USA Today to students at no cost beyond a $5 media fee.
Both tickets agree that communication with the student body has been a problem under the current president and vice president, Jarrett Adams and Kate Smith.
“This has been one of the biggest shortfalls of student government since Jared Itkowitz [student body president during the 2008–09 school year],” remarked Flittner, who believes that past presidents were only eager to publicize work related to issues raised during their campaign. “A lot of stuff can pop up in office for the executives to deal with that aren’t necessarily related to their platforms, so they have to find a balance between working on that and working on their other initiatives. But regardless of what they do, they have to publicize what they are doing.... We are ready to tackle that problem.”
“Since the beginning, Kelsey and I have identified the transparency and communication problems between the executive branch and the student body,” Alcoser said. “I want students to recognize us and know that we are here.”
“We would rather that students feel bombarded with information than feel that they aren’t being recognized or cared about,” he said. Briggs added, “But we want to find a healthy balance.”
Flittner, Sharma, Alcoser, and Briggs will all face off today at the Tartan Debates. The elections will take place from April 2 to 5.
Editor’s Note: Turi Alcoser is a staffwriter for The Tartan.
Jake Flittner, Sangita Sharma run on experience.
Jake Flittner and Sangita Sharma’s platform, which they have labeled “Building a better Carnegie Mellon,” has six main points: Community Building, Government Relations, Health and Safety, Transparency, Transportation, and Continuing Past Initiatives.
“We feel that in order to effectively fill the roles of student body president and student body vice president, you have to cover a variety of initiatives on many different issues,” Flittner said. “For areas that already have a heavy infrastructure for working on these issues ... our main goal is to help those infrastructures with our cabinet. Our goal is also to build new infrastructures in area where there isn’t heavy infrastructure.”
Flittner and Sharma said that their platform is based on experience. “The longer [you’ve] been in student government, the more knowledge you get [about] issues that are happening on campus ... and the more you see ways you can make changes and implement them on campus,” said Flittner, who has been a Student Senator since his first year here. “[Our platform] is really a culmination of all my experiences over the past three years.”
In addition to experience, Sharma also adds a direct link to many of the issues addressed in her and Flittner’s platform. “I’m already very involved in different areas of campus,” she said. “[Running for office] is taking a step forward. This is a way I can do something that affects all of the student body, not just an individual organization or group.”
Turi Alcoser, Kelsey Briggs bring new perspectives.
In contrast, Turi Alcoser and Kelsey Briggs stress how they are running because they are not “involved” in student government and can introduce new viewpoints to those are have been involved.
“If you are involved in student government, you have a very specific viewpoint on how student government works ... and that narrows your views of things,” explained Briggs. “I want to run because I have experienced things in a very different light. We hear this whole other spectrum of concerns because we aren’t involved in student government.”
Having an outside perspective is key to Alcoser and Briggs’ campaign strategy and platform. They feel it gives them an important distinction from their competitors.
From this vantage point, Alcoser said that the he sees the main issue for students is stress: “I’m sure that many students can attest to this, and I want to show that I when I leave here from Carnegie Mellon, I recognized this problem and I did something about it.”
Alcoser and Briggs’ platform, which they have labeled “Engineering Change,” has five main points: Mind, Body, and Wellness; Undergrad-Grad Collaboration; Empowering Diversity; Unifying the Greek Community; and Current Administrative Initiatives.
Alcoser and Briggs drew their platform’s five main points from both of their various experiences and extracurricular activities on campus. “Our platform is what we live,” Alcoser said. “These are the areas that we are involved in on campus.”