Junior chemical engineering major Elena Karras is running for student body vice president for finance (SBVPF) on a platform of creating more transparency in the funding process. Karras said she aims to create transparency through open metric meetings, office hours, and better-educated JFC representatives.
Karras said she would like to host an open metric meeting at the beginning of the year so that organizations can voice their opinions about what metrics the JFC should use to fund organizations, and to answer questions about the metrics. Typical metrics include travel, food, and lodging, among others. “It’s sort of a way to hear the voices of the people who are involved in the process,” Karras said about the potential meeting.
To keep lines of communication open between the SBVPF and student organizations, Karras’s platform includes expanding the office hours that current SBVPF Jalen Poteat held this academic year.
Karras said she would hold the office hours all year, with increased hours during the budget submission period. “I also want to make sure that [organizations] feel comfortable coming to me with any questions that they have,” Karras said. According to Karras, organizations are often unaware of all of their options for funding, what they can do with their money, and the funding process itself.
Karras said she would release JFC applications during the summer and choose representatives at the beginning of the academic year in order to train them extensively on the entire budget process.
“It’s really important to choose [representatives] early and make sure they’re clear on what the funding avenues are — not just the JFC process — but the funding process as a whole,” Karras said. She wants representatives to be comprehensive resources for their organizations.
According to her platform, Karras would also strengthen collaboration with the student body vice president for organizations (SBVPO) to ensure that she and the SBVPO are both in agreement “in terms of where organizations are and what organizations need.”
Karras has been a member of Student Senate and the JFC for two semesters, where she has guided organizations through the funding process as a representative. She has gone through the funding process as the treasurer for College Democrats too. She is also a part of the Internal Development Committee, which educates Senators about recent happenings and brings them together as a cohesive body, according to Karras.
Karras is a lighting tech area head for Scotch’n’Soda, vice president of membership development and programming for Panhellenic, a sister of Alpha Chi Omega, president of College Democrats, and a general member of AB Tech, Spring Carnival Committee, and Carnegie Tech Radio Club.
Karras took an unusual road to becoming involved in Student Senate.
She was originally a write-in candidate for the Carnegie Institute of Technology after her friends voted for her.
A write-in candidate is not printed on the ballot, but can be handwritten onto it by voters.
“I stuck with it because I realized it was something that I thought was very important because you need people who are passionate about serving our campus and who care that ... all organizations are being served to the best of their ability,” Karras said.
Karras can solve a Rubik’s cube in under two minutes.
Karras has beaten Doge2048.
Junior economics major Matthew Greenberg is running for student body vice president for finance (SBVPF) on a platform of making the budgeting process more efficient through a two-step plan.
As SBVPF, Greenberg would first implement a key performance indicator (KPI) to evaluate the impact that an organization has on the campus community, according to his platform.
Greenberg said the KPI would be indicative of the organization’s performance during the current and previous academic year.
At present, organizations are evaluated by the JFC during the budgeting process mainly by their performance in the previous academic year and the word of organization members.
“The biggest problem with the funding committee as of right now is that you can’t judge an organization on what they’re doing this year and how they’re improving or not improving,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg said he would require JFC representatives to go to the biggest events — and possibly a few minor ones — for organizations that they represent, in order to more directly see the impact the organizations have on the campus during the current year.
Greenberg is also proposing to reform the JFC representative selection process so there are two selection periods — one in the spring and one in the fall.
According to his platform, Greenberg would establish an early-decision type process to choose JFC representatives.
During the spring, “[Representatives] who have a good reputation and who didn’t do a bad job would have the option to retake their seat the next year,” Greenberg said. Students who were not previously representatives would also be able to apply for positions at the same time, according to Greenberg.
If positions remained open after the spring selection, Greenberg said there would be a fall selection similar to the selection that occurs now. “That way the best [representatives] will still be there, will be trained, and will have the ability to use this KPI to judge performance and to judge impact of the organizations and ... be able to teach the new [representatives] how to do that,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg is the CEO of his own company, Greenberg & Bao Portfolio Strategies, LLC, which identifies market inefficiencies.
He is a brother of Pi Kappa Alpha and was the chair of the fourth annual Matthew Tembo Memorial Soccer Tournament. According to a university news release, Pi Kappa Alpha hosts this soccer tournament each year to be “a positive force in the prevention, treatment, education, and research of substance abuse and alcoholism.” Greenberg is also a member of the Undergraduate Finance Association.
When asked what he hopes to accomplish for himself through the position, Greenberg said, “I think it will help me to fine-tune my skills both as a CEO and just generally dealing with money on a daily basis.”
He said that the position would also give him good experience in leading a group of people to develop an efficient budget. Greenberg stressed the influence that the SBVPF has to improve student life.
“Especially at a school where everyone’s working so hard, it’s important that you get the best quality of life that you can have here ... and the VPF certainly has the ability to impact that,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg been to 18 different countries and all five Disney theme parks, and was in Spain for the World Cup when they won in 2010.
Greenberg is also a die-hard fan of New York sports teams, especially the Rangers and the Yankees.
Sophomore electrical and computer engineering major Divya Kothandapani is running for student body vice president for finance (SBVPF) on a platform of improving the transparency of the JFC and the advising resources for student organizations.
Kothandapani wrote in an email, “I would like to make [organizations] more aware of the SBVPF and make myself approachable so [organizations] can contact me any time throughout the year if they are confused with how campus finances work and need advice to be successful.”
Kothandapani wrote that the JFC currently only meets at the end of the academic year to determine what the following academic year’s budget will be, but that organizations must manage their budgets themselves throughout the year.
She wrote that a lack of financial advising resources causes confusion and is a source of debt for many organizations.
She wrote that she would work to engage JFC representatives with organizations to familiarize them with the budgeting process and to understand why certain decisions are made. “The JFC exists to support [organizations] and it wants to help your [organization] succeed,” Kothandapani wrote.
“I want to create a better, ‘friendlier’ image for this committee so the students are more comfortable and understand the importance of the resources it can provide.” Kothandapani hopes to work closely with the SBVPO to more actively help organizations with fundraising, ideas, support, and promotion.
When asked what she hopes to accomplish for herself in the position, Kothandapani wrote, “By helping [organizations] with something as important as finances, I would be proud of myself for reaching out to help them achieve their success and improving our student activities would make me even more excited to come to school everyday and be a part of this community.”
She wrote that she hopes ot reach the student body even further as SBVPF to help a larger group — over 200 student organizations — to succeed. Kothandapani joined Student Senate during her first year at Carnegie Mellon as a member at large, and later, a CIT senator.
She has served on the Business Affairs and Finance committees and is now the business affairs chair. She is also involved with the Executive Committee of Student Senate.
Kothandapani is currently a JFC representative as well, a position which she wrote has helped her learn the pros and cons of the SBVPF position, including the strengths and weaknesses of the current system. The SBVPF chairs the JFC. Kothandapani’s other involvement on campus includes treasurer for Hindu spirituality and culture organization OM, captain of classical Indian dance team Payal, a member of the CIT Community Building Commitee, and a Donner mentor.
Kothandapani loves dancing and has been a part of the bhangra team.
Kothandapani started a classical Indian dance team this year.
Kothandapani used to be shy and reserved when she first came to Carnegie Mellon; now loves making new friends and being
involved on campus.