Nara Kasbergen for student body vice president of finance

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Those who are close to student government know that, while the student body president and vice president get more press, the power behind the throne is the vice president for finance. The SBVPF, who chairs the Joint Funding Committee, is the loudest voice in a process that annually doles out over a million dollars in funding to student organizations that eventually turns into concerts, newspapers, and thousands of dumplings.

While I am already tired of hearing about how the economic downturn is going to affect Carnegie Mellon, it is nonetheless true that the JFC is facing an uncertain school year in 2009–2010. In addition to an increased reliance on the JFC as internal and external funding sources continue to dry up, rumblings of a substantial increase in the student activities fee will likely result in a lot of hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth in the fall semester.

To oversee this contentious year, Carnegie Mellon’s student body — all of whom are affected by the SBVPF’s decisions — deserves an experienced and knowledgeable vice president for finance. That person is Nara Kasbergen.

Kasbergen is a three-year veteran of the JFC, but just as important as that, her involvement in student organizations shows unmatched breadth and depth. She has spent at least a semester in nearly a half-dozen student organizations, developing deep commitments to Student Senate and the multicultural group Awareness of Roots in Chinese Culture.

The ability to understand the needs of diverse organizations is a rarity on a campus where students tend toward specialization. This broad student organization experience will be of undoubted benefit to both the JFC and, by extension, student organizations who count on the JFC to remain knowledgeable on the issues that concern them.

My first-hand experiences with Nara on the JFC have shown me that she is not only committed to the funding process, but is also a strong advocate of the groups that she represents. She is eager to attend their events and meetings in order to come to a better understanding of the groups’ needs. This has resulted, for the most part, in leaner, more efficient budgeting within her groups. I am hopeful that she would inspire this example in the other members of the committee.

The commitment to due diligence that she has shown is especially important to me with the specter of an increase to the student activities fee looming on the not-so-distant horizon. I have said repeatedly that a substantial increase in the fee should not even be considered without a very deliberate re-evaluation of both the JFC process and the Student Activities accounting process. If there is anyone who understands the process enough to shape it up for potential increases to the student activities fee, it is Nara.

Though I have spoken mainly about the SBVPF as a leader on the JFC, the role is much more. The SBVPF functions as the main financial adviser to the student body president, and also advises the dean of Student Affairs and President Cohon on financial matters concerning students. I am confident that Nara will be prepared to deliver sound advice that is honest and straightforward. On top of these responsibilities, her platform indicates that she would like to grow the role of SBVPF even further, to increase its responsibilities. She understands that there is a dearth of quality financial advising for student organizations and has plans to fill it.

Still, Nara will face many challenges. She will represent both undergraduates and graduate students, and while her undergraduate experiences are broad, connecting with graduate students is a notoriously difficult task. While it is unlikely that Nara will have time to complete all of the 37 objectives she has set for herself in her platform, that fact there are 37 well-articulated points categorized under five objectives shows the ability to critically analyze the current process, plan for a new direction, and show how she is going to get there. On March 29, my vote will be with Nara.