Special

Trevor Hadick and Micah Rabin seek to improve accessibility

Credit: Zeke Rosenberg/ Credit: Zeke Rosenberg/

Zeke Rosenberg (Senior Staff, The Tartan): Alright, so my first question is why did you decide to run? And I guess that kind of goes to both of you. Why did you decide to run, how did you decide on running mate, why did you decide to accept?

Trevor Hadick (junior chemical engineering and engineering & public policy double major, student body presidential candidate): I’ll go first. So, I’ve been involved in student government my entire time here on campus. Sophomore year I served under student body president, Ian Glasner, and student body vice president, Shalini Ray, in their cabinet. Then I came as Student Body Vice President of Organizations (VPO) this year and now I’m running as president. The biggest [reason] why is that the involvement has given me a lot of experience. I’ve seen a lot of large discussions. Student Government Executive Branch (Exec) has a lot of really big umbrella topics: discussions about this campus, where we are currently, where are we going. That has included things like diversity and inclusion on this campus and some larger issues in terms of tuition increases.

Seeing all [of] that and being aware of the impact that Student Government has and what we can do, I think the biggest thing about why I’m running is that there are things that we can change, and I believe that I have the ability to do that, both through the connections that I have from my current role as well as knowing the correct approaches and the procedures to get those things done. That’s why I’m running, and I think that I can do it.

Why did I choose Micah to run with me? Micah is currently my Director in the Committee on Student Organizations (CoSo). The way that CoSo is structured is that we have representatives, and between the representatives we elect directors who both lead a time or [become] representatives and run a process. We have three separate processes. My directors are my right hand and my go-to. We work together on a lot of things. When we have to make tough decision about where CoSo is going in the future it’s me and the three of them. So I establish a really good working relationship with them over the year. Nina Fan is one of my directors who’s also running. Micah and I had a really good working relationship going into this. She has a lot of the same drive and passion that I have, and I thought she’d be really good for the role. That’s why I selected her.

Micah Rabin (first-year decision science major, vice presidential candidate): Coming in at the beginning of this year I had always been interested in politics and making a bigger impact on wherever I was and whatever I’m doing. So first thing this year I joined CoSo, tried to get on a number of student organizations, and tried to become as involved in student government as I could. After doing that, I saw the impact that we could potentially have on the student body and the impact that I could potentially make. When Trevor asked me to run with him I was very thrilled about it. I am so excited to see what we can do for the students and to push our initiatives and really make things happen, which is what we’ve been doing, and what I started doing at the beginning of the year. I’m excited to run.

ZR: One quick semantic question before we get into past stuff. I actually didn't know what Special Ticketing meant when I was looking through your platform. Could you clarify that?

TH: Oh, the online ticketing. In the beginning of the year, one of Assistant Director of Student Activities Elizabeth Rapoport’s goals for coming to this campus was to modernize it. We sell tickets in one of the oldest fashion ways that we can, which is to stand outside and say “Hey, buy this ticket.” That includes paying cash for it. We’re just now starting to get to where you can swipe a credit card and things like that. This really directly applied to student organizations so she and I met. She asked, “Do you see this happening on this campus,” and I saw it happening. Obviously there’s going to be a transition, a rough period, but we worked together to find a solution.

If you look at the Joint Funding Committee (JFC) allocations we have a discretionary fund, so I used my discretionary fund to pay for the modernized system. We created an organization implementation process so that if an organization wants to use the new system, they meet with the Office of Student Activities and go through an approval process and set all that up. There were some other people who bought into the system like Student Life so that they could use it as well, but I really funded the system. The Student Senate also pitched in, and we worked together to insure that organizations are getting what they need out of it.

We’ve looked at the numbers and the VPO to decide if we will buy into it next year. It’s a really good opportunity. It’s one of those things where we started with a good number, the system works fine, and now we’re trying to get more organizations to use it. It’s not as vocalized as I think organizations want it to be, but that’s because in the first year we were testing to make sure there weren’t a lot of problems before we say “Hey, everyone use it!” and everything crashes and we can’t do it. The organizations that have used it are Lunar Gala, Student Senate, and the Graduate Student Assembly. It’s for larger events right now. It’s a lot of set up and we are trying to learn, so mainly it was the 200 plus or 100 plus people groups that got it.

ZR: Thanks for clarifying that. Let’s talk about Summit. Not necessarily Summit in general, but more the application process. From what I understand it seems that meeting with a CoSo advisor has been replaced with an application to streamline the process. Is that an accurate representation of what happened?

TH: The application has always been required because we keep a file of them so that we can go back to past years and look at things. The part that was replaced was the meeting with the representative, and instead there was leadership development workshop. They still had to fill out an application, but the part where you met with a representative was replaced with a workshop.

ZR: Okay. Is there still an avenue for rerecognition for clubs that are older and have outdated constitutions and bylaws? Is there a way for them to meet with representatives or has Summit replaced that entirely?

MR: I redid the entire rerecognition for mature organizations, which are organizations that have been on campus for more than seven years, this year. The way it works is that an organization will submit an online form and answer a lot of questions. Our representatives are going over all of their organization’s forms, and if they see any red flags then they will meet with those organizations. If any other things come up or if the organization wants to meet with someone to help them along with certain things they can definitely meet with their representative. It’s not mandated for every organization anymore, but we are looking for red flags and organizations that are slipping through the cracks.

TH: If the organization is young, mature, or new they will go to that [specific] director. A lot of times that director will meet with them because directors are considered to be more experienced and have more background knowledge and [an] overall sense of what’s going on. A lot of times organizations reach out to me as well and I will direct them to a director because the director is a bit more experienced than a representative would be and are more able to help organizations that want the help.

ZR: Going forward, do you see Summit as one workshop where all of the organizations send one student leader, or do you see it as more of a set of different things that different people can come to and have different learning experiences? Obviously each club has different needs and leadership isn’t even a part of some clubs. Is there a process going forward for tailoring that to specific organizations?

TH: We are keeping student organizations as a major part of our plan going forward. Director of Young Organizations Hannah Kim is on our proposed cabinet, and Director of New Organizations Nina Fan is stepping into VPO.

We have reflected on how Summit went this year. This was the first year, and we’ve learned a ton of stuff. How we’ve envisioned it going forward, and this will ultimately be up for Nina to decide, but where conversation is right now is that the Carnegie Leadership Consultants (CLCs) work under Elizabeth Rappaport, and we want to bridge the gap between them and us. We still value leadership development, but we’ve learned that the one all-day didn’t accomplish everything we wanted it to because different organizations have different needs and the time commitment was an issue. In the future there are going to be different sessions on different topics throughout the fall and the spring, and you will have the option to choose what your organization is interested in. What we did in Summit was three topics the whole day. Instead we are going to break that up and spread that out, and organizations will have the option to choose which is best for them. Exactly how many options there will be and how many are required isn’t decided yet, but that’s how we see things going forward.

MR: The sessions we had at Summit were event planning, finance, and leadership. We are going to break those down into a couple more, and basically do exactly what Trevor said.

ZR: Okay, let’s move onwards to your platform. The first thing I wanted to ask about was transportation and bike sharing. What form of bike sharing do you envision? How is that going to end up working, and what does that look like in your platform?

TH: The Student Body Executive Branch started this conversation in the fall because that is when we give a recommendation for the transportation fee. Parking and Transportation brought a proposal to us, and they said, ‘Hey, the University of Pittsburgh is looking into getting into bike sharing. We want to know if you are interested in this being an option for students. We don’t have a lot of information, but should we investigate?’ Unfortunately the Executive Branch said, 'No, we don’t think we should.' I was the sole voice that said 'yes, let's investigate, let's gain more information.' This isn’t a 'yes, we are going to do this.' This isn’t 'yes, we’re in.' This is, 'we don’t have enough information to make a decision right now.' The company was just reaching out to us and the University of Pittsburgh to get where we stand.

I recently met with the Director of Parking & Transportation series, Michelle Porter, to talk more about this.

MR: We met with her a couple of weeks ago, Trevor and I.

TH: Yeah, we met to discuss where we are going now and what the future looks like. The University of Pittsburgh is working on with them, so I told Michelle to loop back in on that discussion to see where things are at. We’re trying to lower the price. Their initial idea was that we would pay the fee for each individual person, but we said that’s impossible. That would cost us so much. So when we met we told her to continue to investigate we need to get the price much lower. I know that the University of Pittsburgh wouldn’t be on board with paying per person either, so the company will need to think of an option, maybe different packages and things like that.

So, the bikes that we’re talking about are the —

MR: CityShare. Another thing about that, one of our main concerns when we were speaking with her was where the bikes are placed around the city. You know, are they accessible from our campus? If the only one is in Shadyside then no one is going to use it. And so she sent me a map with where all the bikes are, and there are a couple in Oakland but then she said that she would speak with the company as well and in negotiations with Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh getting into this bike sharing program then add more bikes in Oakland.

TH: Yeah, and I think the last thing that we were discussing was a good, short, immediate effect to get a Carnegie Mellon discount for students. That can happen very quickly.

MR: That could happen in the fall.

TH: Right. I think the longer term, when this price actually comes down to what they think they would charge us, is if that is something that should go into the transportation fee, where exactly does that fall, how much is that. That’s a larger discussion that all of the Executive Branch will be included on, but that’s kind of the two tails. This counts now, the exact cost and is that part of transportation fee, and exactly how does that all loop together moving forward.

ZR: Alright. The second thing regarding student activities fee you want to do is researching ways to lower the student activities fee. How’s research going? Any things you can let us in on that maybe you’d want to do specifically, or is it more just getting down and seeing what there is?

TH: Yeah, so, I think one of the tough things, and [things] we could spend hours going through, is the flow chart. There’s a fiscal flow, this is again an Executive Branch topic. The money that starts in the beginning flows through all these different accounts and organizations are at the very bottom. Seeing where that fiscal flow goes, there are constant percentages and deviations and things break off and it is very confusing. Every time a new Executive Branch comes in we spend two hours to learn it. So, I think some of the biggest things right now is to really evaluate that flow, and to see if that flow is appropriate. Is it flowing to the right places? Are the right amounts flowing in? And sometimes that may come down to not a decrease in the fee but maybe it’s a change in flow to get more money to organizations because that is where the biggest impact is felt. It’s looking at every dollar that flows through there and a lot.

I would say in terms of research now, we’ve learned recently a lot about the capital funds. A couple of years ago JFC moved capital funds staying inside of their JFC main, and now instead they are in a capital account. I think that’s one major area, looking into that. I think the other main area is looking into the Student Government Operating Reserves, and exactly how things flow into there, because they are all percentages off of other percentages and making sure there is proper recycling and all of that. It’s a lot because it’s a lot of money but two it’s a lot of flow, so really looking through all of that. The Executive Branch has that conversation every fall, we give a recommendation to the board of trustees as to what we think the amount should be. This year, it’s wasn’t unanimous, the board voted I believe 2.1, you guys ran a graph of it so you have the exact [number], but that was not a unanimous 2.1 increase. There were conversations all over the board regarding that. I think it’s [about] continuing to look into that because we’re sticking with inflation, which is why we did a 2.1 or a CPI, but do we exactly need that 2.1? Or do people just raise the 2.1 to raise the 2.1?

ZR: And then, just another area of finance: the media fee. So you’re going to deliver newspapers to people’s doors and stuff. You're going to deliver The Tartan?

TH: The media fee, right now has been pretty consistent. This is another Executive Branch topic. It’s been pretty consistent. It’s ten dollars. I believe that’s per semester, and basically what that covers is all of what you can find in the news stands. It pays for all that, and we pay per paper. So if we get a hundred of them delivered and ten people take them we pay for the ten we don’t pay for all one hundred. Which is a really good system and several years ago someone fought hard for that system and we’re glad we have it.

I think some of the investigation that partially goes into this, I’ve worked with the Student Senate on this recently, is they’re looking to get these papers in Entropy. They wouldn’t be free on the weekends, but students or visitors would have the option to buy them. There have been a lot of students who have raised the concern, especially first years, that they would like to buy these papers on the weekend but there is no place to actually buy them here. So even with DineEx they’d be willing to pay for them. In the longer term, looking into Executive Branch finances, how much is spent. There may be options that have those weekend papers for free. There was a time a long time ago, maybe five or six years, that those were free, and no one was getting them at all. So the system was removed, but there can be investigations into whether we should bring that back or not.

And then the last thing is publicizing that we actually have free codes to get into the New York Times. A lot of students want the online option to get in there, but they say, ‘Hey, we don’t have that,’ but we actually have those codes available. There’s a set amount, and different papers have different numbers. This information is online and Student Senate can also provide that. I hear from a lot of students, ‘Hey, we wish we could do this online,’ and you actually can. You just need the code and the proper information. So, ensuring that despite it only being ten dollars people are getting the most out of that money and all their needs are being met through that fee.

ZR: Okay, so now moving away from the funding of stuff, a big portion of your campaign it seems has to do with diversity. A lot of these things are unconscious biases. How do you plan to work towards these goals through a top-down approach for Student Government? What can we expect to see that you think will improve the diversity of both people at Carnegie Mellon and the organizations here?

MR: So just to speak on the structure of how we plan to do it, and then Trevor can go into what we plan to do. Basically, the way our cabinet works is we have a director for each of our platform points or initiatives. Brooke Carter, who is our Director of Diversity, has been working really hard and meeting with lots of different administrators, who Trevor can talk about, to really push for that. Then she will bring information back to us and then also bring information back down. It’s a really great system that we’ve created to ensure that we have all the information and we’re not going into things blind, but also the students feel like they have a voice and that it’s getting to us directly through Brooke.

TH: To build on that as it relates to organization and their diversity and inclusion, a lot of the positive feedback that we heard from Summit was that organization leaders got to talk to other organization leaders that they had never gotten the chance to talk to. So some of this was the whole idea of, ‘hey, how do you make this event so successful’ or ‘how do you get people to come’ or there were some groups that were like ‘why don’t people come to my event.’ And people were able to have an honest conversation about ‘people don’t come for this reason’ or ‘this is how your organization is portrayed.’ I think that’s the first step. It’s having those conversations and a lot of open dialogue. Organization leaders are typically pretty open to coming together and having discussions regarding this. They take their organizations seriously. A lot of organizations are very aware and concerned about this. They want to be inclusive, but sometimes they don’t know how. Sometimes they don’t know that to the campus they feel exclusive. So a lot of this is open dialogue. A lot of organizations leaders know me and respect me and bringing those together would be really good as it relates to student organizations.

As it relates to the campus, so far this past year we’ve done a lot of more of a presentation style. There was the President's Dinner that was related to diversity, and Martin Luther King Jr. talks were related [to] diversity and inclusion. But there’s not enough well-timed discussion times. I know one point where people wanted to have a lot of discussion was after the Sexual and Relationship Violence (SARV) reports came out. There was not discussion until two weeks later, and people wanted a lot of discussion that night that it was sent out. There was kind of a disconnect between the administration and us when no one stepped up and said, ‘Hey, we’d like to have a discussion after that.’ But at the same time the administration had the discussion planned but it wasn’t at a well-planned time. Something we’ve already vocalized about when they release the DASH survey about diversity and inclusion [is] that the discussion needs to be that night because that’s when students want to talk. We have a lot on our plates. We’ll forget two weeks from now. We’ve kind of cooled down, and we’ve forgotten what our points were.

Having discussions that night is a big things. There are more surveys in the works. Moving away from this presentation style that we do a lot of for diversity and inclusion. Recently some students in my gender studies class had an open discussion about certain words that people use on campus, you know, ‘how does that make you feel,’ and ‘why do you think people use that.’ So, really focusing on discussions and less on presentations.

ZR: The second thing about diversity is your LGBT+ initiative. To me a lot of these things occur with physical space and where it is safe to be a LGBT+ person. Do you have anything right now that could speak to that particular concern or just more generally about how your LGBT+ initiatives will work?

MR: So we both, he chairs the committee University Center Allocations Board (UCAB) and I’m the assistant chair for it, so we have been working very closely with the new construction on the University Center. One thing that we made sure is happening is that there are all-gender inclusive bathrooms in the new section of the University Center, and we are working on getting it in other buildings on campus. That’s one of our biggest initiatives when it comes to that, and making sure that LGBT+ people feel safe wherever they are on campus, along with the new housing initiative in Morewood that is offering people who identify as genderfluid or identify as anything they feel and want to live in an all-gender inclusive space the option to do that. So many schools are doing that and we were really behind on that. So, those are our two big points.

TH: And to build on that, Student Senate has also formed an ad hoc committee that is also working on these things. So we are partnering forces with them. The [Cohon Center (CC)] has been a great step forward in ensuring that there were all-gender bathrooms. There are also things in the restrooms as well. I can send you the list of exactly what will be included in you’d like that.

But moving on from that since we already have that kind of achieved, looking forward one of the major things is having a consistent labeling of bathrooms or any spaces in general. I believe it was West Virginia had some, I don’t want to call them riots, but there were some unhappy students because of offensive signage that was used. So being [as] proactive as we are creating these spaces and ensuring that signage is appropriate and not offensive and that it’s consistent across campus. Every building has a building manager, so although my signage here may be appropriate signage in another building may not be. So a lot of those [building managers] will work with Campus Design and Facility Development (CDFD) and with Dean of Student Affairs and Associate Vice President Gina Casalegno and that Student Senate committee to ensure that we have a process moving forward.

There’s also a very strong push as well to this. Right now it’s practice to have an all-gender restroom in each building, but there’s not actually a policy for that. So although it’s good to have practices like this, it’s better to get them in writing. That’s also something that we’re discussing and working with Gina on. Seeing, you know, exactly what is that wording, where could it be put in. Some of the difficulty with that is that there’s a specific number of bathrooms per building based on size and all that, so it’s ensuring that we don’t put in a policy and then it there’s a small building put up it doubles the cost. So we are trying to be aware of all of those things, but that’s where those initiatives are going forward.

ZR: With college rankings, this is something the school’s administration has been working on for years, since before any of us got here, trying to get donations and things like that. What do you think, from the president’s position, you’ll be able to do to tangibly improve that?

TH: This partially ties in to the whole transportation aspect. There are so many different websites or companies that rank us, and each algorithm is different. One simple change may change one but may not change all the other ones. So part of it is looking into specific rankings and seeing exactly what their algorithm is and researching what we can do to that.

One of the most common ones or ones that we recently saw is the Athletics on [SLANT12]Niche.com[SLANT12] was a C and parking was also a C. So as a club sport executive board member I’ve been working a lot with Anthony Miller to see where club sports are, where club sports are going, and what resources they have. Student government used to pay for their coaches, and we ensured that would be kept so we transitioned that to athletics. So there are things like that, and athletics and broad. It’s partially that, and there are things like parking and transportation that also affect us by rankings. By having bike share programs and things like that we can also affect those. I think sometimes because we have a multiyear culture of increasing rankings by getting donations we forget that’s not the only thing that increases those rankings, and I think that’s something for people to know. There are other ways that we can also increase those besides just donations.

But I think the other thing is being supportive of the initiative of President Subra Suresh. There will be times when people need tours done for people who may give donations and things like that. The Student Government Executive Branch has always been open in the past to providing any assistance that we can. It’s keeping that door open and that support so that if there are people who would like to meet with us and hear more about the campus and what student government is doing we are there.

I think the last thing is that the organization culture is to not really utilize your alumni. There are some organizations that do it really well and have this great alumni networks, and a lot of organizations that want an alumni network but don’t know how to create one. So that’s one of the things that we addressed in the Summit, was how to start that alumni network. It’s not always about the money that you get from the alumni. Sometimes it’s the advice; sometimes it’s the help, the resources. But creating one of those is really great.

A lot of those rankings differ a lot so there’s not one set thing you can do [to] increase those across the board. It depends where you’d like to focus and on what ranking. That’s why we left it broad. The things we do might increase one but may not increase any of the other ones. So that’s kind of where that is.

ZR: Those are the things I really wanted to ask about. Is there anything else you want to throw in?

TH: Do you have anything you’d like to add?

MR: No, I think that’s all really great, honestly.