SG 2013: Liaison Endorsements

For the position of undergraduate liaison to the Board of Trustees, the Maroon endorses incumbent Rohan Manthani.

By Maroon Editorial Board

Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees

For the position of undergraduate liaison to the Board of Trustees, the Maroon endorses incumbent Rohan Manthani, a third-year in the College majoring in biology and economics. With a year of liaison experience, Manthani possesses thorough knowledge of the way the Board of Trustees operates—that is, with a packed agenda, with the University’s long-term well-being in mind, and privately. In light of the Board’s frequent need for discretion, it makes sense that Manthani does not share some of his fellow candidates’ view that achieving a more formally transparent relationship between students and the Board of Trustees is a practicable goal for the liaison. Rather, his platform sensibly centers on getting students increased facetime with individual Board members through continuing trustee luncheons—whose high demand and limited capacity indicate that they should be held more frequently—and working toward more student presence at Board meetings. Citing his own success in cultivating personal relationships with Board members, Manthani also has a concrete aim to lobby for student concerns by changing the minds of individual Board members, who wield actual power not only as voters but also with respect to determining what issues are discussed. This is a laudable goal that will benefit from continuity in the position.

While the Maroon understands Manthani’s view that a student vote on the Board of Trustees is a very long-term goal, it is worth noting that his platform lacks a strategy, even in the long run, for obtaining a vote. Such a vote would legitimize student input on the Board in a way that a student simply could not do herself in an advisory capacity. Two other candidates, second-year Brendan Leonard and first-year Holly Rapp, would, to their credit, aim to more concretely advocate for a student vote. Leonard does so most convincingly, promising to draw on similar efforts at peer institutions while making the issue of a student vote more visible on campus. However, Leonard’s and Rapp’s plans for finding a more prominent place for students in relation to the Board in the near term were not as well-developed as Manthani’s.

The remaining candidates, third-year Joanna Kadieva and first-year Thomas Remissong, do not support working toward a student vote on the Board of Trustees.

Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees

Navin Jose Manjooran, a first-year M.B.A. student, is the only official candidate for the position of graduate liaison to the Board of Trustees. Manjooran has not served in UChicago’s SG; however, he was formerly a graduate student representative on Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors. Though that Board was much smaller than UChicago’s and governed a public institution, Manjooran has valuable experience working in a role similar to the one he will likely be taking on. He plans to use this experience to build on the accomplishments of Kathryn Hagerman, the current graduate liaison, with whom he shares goals for core graduate student issues, such as pressing the University for more affordable child care.

In regard to expanding the role of liaison and of students in relation to the Board, Manjooran rightly views the obtainment of a student vote on the Board as a long-term goal. Accordingly, he has a vision of how to approach that goal, though it is rather vague: He plans to increase the liaison’s visibility and accountability to students and thereby strengthen the case for expanded student presence on the Board and, later, limited voting power on certain issues. However, his short-term means of enacting this goal—building personal relationships with more receptive Board members and gaining student issues a place in their minds and votes—is clear and sensible.

Community and Government Liaison

Editor’s note: This candidate was disqualified early this morning and the position will now go to the write-in candidate who receives the most votes. 

First-year Christina Dong is the only official candidate for the Community and Government Liaison position. A current class of 2016 representative for College Council, her work, which includes contributions to SG’s restaurant discounts initiative and the Roosevelt Shuttle program, is commendable and succeeds in SG’s ongoing effort to connect students with the greater Chicago. Her platform highlights these achievements as examples of community engagement experience that she can build on as Liaison.

However, her platform lacks both the specificity and appropriate vision required for local engagement, which is the primary concern of the Community and Government Liaison. To promote a culture of community involvement in the student body, Dong proposes a quarterly Days of Service Program, in which students can sign up to volunteer with a CSRSO one weekend of each quarter. The Days of Service program is a great way to initiate engagement and awareness, but lacks a means to encourage follow-through, which is at the crux of creating a culture of involvement. Since the Days of Service Program already exists, the Liaison should design other programs that build on students’ initial interest in service and engagement in order to strengthen their long-term relationships with the community. Furthermore, Dong provided the Maroon with few details regarding the formal ways she would actively approach and listen to community members.

The Editorial Board consists of the Editors-in-Chief and the Viewpoints Editors.