VPO candidates run on platforms of reforms

Rishi Patel (credit: Jennifer Coloma/Staff) Rishi Patel (credit: Jennifer Coloma/Staff) Alyssa Danesh (credit: Jennifer Coloma/Staff) Alyssa Danesh (credit: Jennifer Coloma/Staff)

Rishi Patel

Sophomore business administration and decision science double major Rishi Patel is running on a platform of funding improvements. Patel, who is currently a member of the Joint Funding Committee (JFC), believes that funding is one of the most pressing problems Carnegie Mellon student organizations are facing.

“Funding is definitely an issue right now,” Patel said. “Right now JFC has cut a lot of budgets because we don’t have enough money to allocate to all the organizations.”

To relieve student organizations of some of their financial burdens, Patel says that he would work to improve organizations’ relationships with their alumni and foster communication between JFC and the Committee on Student Organizations (CoSO).

“Alumni relations is a great way to tap into an untapped resource and get money for organizations,” Patel said. As vice president for organizations, Patel said that he would try to show student organizations how to connect to alumni. Patel said that his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, has the best alumni relations program on campus, and that he would use the knowledge he has gained there to help other organizations.

Patel said that he would also work to institute meetings between JFC and CoSO once a semester. “I want to make sure that people on JFC know the CoSO process, because right now they really don’t know that much about it. I feel like you have to have knowledge of both JFC and CoSO to be on either organization,” Patel said.

Patel also said that he would like to create a booklet of best practices for organizations. The booklet would contain information on how to get space on campus, how to fundraise, and other strategies that Patel feels organizations should understand. The Office of Student Activities currently publishes an annual handbook for student organizations that explains the recognition and funding processes, space and event planning, and university policies.

Patel’s platform also includes plans to revamp the current CoSO organization categories, promote an increase of the Student Activities Fee, and establish awards for well-run student organizations.

Patel hopes to advocate for student organizations. “Right now, if you’re a member of an organization, it’s hard for you to get your voice out there to representatives in the administration. I feel like the VPO’s the person who represents the organizations, and bridges the gap between them and the administration.”

Alyssa Danesh

Alyssa Danesh, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, is running on a platform of strengthening the Committee on Student Organizations (CoSO) and improving communications with student organizations.

As vice president for organizations, Danesh said that she would improve the transparency of the organization recognition process; make CoSO stronger and more efficient; educate organizations about CollegiateLink, the proposed new platform that will replace BudgetTracker and OrgTracker; and act as an advocate for student organizations.

Danesh, who is serving her second year on CoSO, said that she would set clear deadlines for the organization recognition process.

She also wants to ensure that people take CoSo seriously by making members reapply each year. “This year, the Committee on Student Organizations is made up of about 15 people, and we have a big problem with attendance,” Danesh said. “We have a big problem with taking things seriously, and it is a pretty serious thing. Being recognized means a lot to an organization. It means we’re giving them the Student Activities Fee. It’s a lot of money. I think that it’s important that the people in CoSO are taking it seriously.”

Danesh said that she also wishes to establish office hours to educate student organizations on CollegiateLink in the hope that they will use the platform more heavily than they currently use OrgTracker.

She also plans to speak to the leaders of established organizations to compile a database of advice for new organizations on how to run an organization effectively.

Danesh is also the current chair of the Senate Communications Committee.

Danesh said that during her time on Communications Committee, she worked to rebrand Student Senate. She said that the experience has taught her how to communicate with the student body, an ability which she feels is key to the role of VPO.

“As it stands right now, organizations look at the VPO and say, ‘Oh, okay, so it’s this person who I have to go through for recognition. So I’m going to get recognized, and once a year I’ve got to do this,’ ” Danesh said. “And that’s part of the role of VPO. But the big part of it is acting as that advocate. You’re the vice president of organizations, so the organizations are what you’re representing. I think that it’s very important that the VPO act more as that kind of advocate.”