April 28, 2015

2015 College Council Candidate Profiles

CLARK HALPERN, Class of 2016

Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Student Leadership Stipend Program: Yes

Stance on UCPD Transparency: The UCPD needs to be more accountable for their actions. By calling for an increase in the transparency of the UCPD's everyday stops and arrests, Student Government has the power to truly make a difference.

Stance on RSO Funding: I disagree with the current practice of relying on RSO members to purchase supplies out of pocket with the intention of getting their money reimbursed at a later date. This process can be improved by having a credit card directly linked to the RSO's financial account. This can prevent unintentional financial burden on RSO members.

MARK SANDS, Class of 2016

Stance on U-Pass: Yes. The referendum passed.

Stance on trauma center: Yes. If this is going to happen on the South Side, UChicago will have to be a big part of it.

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes, absolutely. I'm super excited about this idea.

Stance on UCPD transparency: I'm glad that HB 3932 passed the IL House, and I hope it will pass the Illinois Senate. It's vital that the community, both within the University and outside of it have data about the police forces operating in their neighborhoods.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? We should work on improving the communication to RSOs—I think many still come out of the process without an understanding of how their request was evaluated. We should also work on better publicizing funding guidelines, since I think there is still confusion about what SGFC, AnAll, and other funding bodies are supposed to fund.

MIKE VIOLA, Class of 2016

Stance on U-Pass: Since this was an issue based entirely on how many students would benefit, the only appropriate way to come up with an answer was by referendum.  I do believe that we should keep an eye on the cost versus the benefit once U-Pass is implemented, but this will be after my time as an undergraduate so this is largely irrelevant to my position.

Stance on trauma center: While I certainly see a trauma center as being desirable in the long term, there are a number of conversations to be had on the issue.  Where would funding come from?  Would it come from another essential service or field of research?  Is a partnership with the city or another hospital network realistic?  Is it the University's responsibility to build one if the primary users are expected to be people from outside the UChicago community? A greater exploration of these questions needs to occur before this can be portrayed as a black-and-white issue.

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes, provided there are adequate safeguards to prevent bias on the student-led committee that pays the stipends.  Such safeguards could include greater staff oversight and a provision ensuring that students on the committee come from an ideologically diverse selection of RSOs.

Stance on UCPD Transparency: I support UCPD transparency efforts because the powers granted to it by the city require accountability—I consider it a private police force in name only.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Some funding rules, like no funding for fundraisers, disproportionately disadvantage small RSOs and should be changed.  As it stands, members of a small RSO just getting off the ground must pay out of pocket for fundraisers and hope that they make enough money back to both get reimbursed and to benefit the RSO.  A more productive system could involve an RSO incubation pot—funds set aside to help new RSOs get fundraising support.

SAACHI GUPTA, Class of 2017

Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Depending on the results of the studies currently being conducted to determine the whether the growth of trauma cases requires another center.

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: Yes

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Having served on annual allocations, and as VP of the largest women's organization on campus, I recognize that the process is bureaucratic, and complex, however, I think that in its current form, it serves student needs effectively.

LEEHO LIM, Class of 2017

Stance on U-Pass: No

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: No

Stance on UCPD Transparency: Yes

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Can be improved by allocating more of the Student Life fee into RSO funding and urging the administration to pool more money into the student life fee. Additionally, we can hold SG fundraisers that will be focused on increasing RSO funding (although this would probably be more of a way to increase funding marginally). What the administration does not understand is that as the number of RSOs increase, and as students are encouraged to participate more in RSOs and student life, the amount of funding that is allocated to the student life fee should go up proportionally, and not down. After sitting on Annual Allocations last year, it was def a shame that we had to cut back on some RSO funding due to a lack of the overall funds we were given.


Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: I stand with and will support the goals of Southside Solidarity Network's Campaign for Equitable Policing.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Increased access to RSO funding for a variety of RSO events and functions is important. Travel and large RSO events should be able to request greater allocations of funding. The Student Life Fee should directly benefit student life, so the Student Government Funding Committee as well as Annual Allocations (both funded fully by the Student Life Fee) should receive a greater portion of that money. In addition to being better funded both SGFC and Annual Allocations should distribute their funds to RSOs more fully.

KATHERINE SHEN, Class of 2017

Stance on U-Pass: No—I think given that the majority of students are for U-Pass, it is something Student Government should be a proponent of. However, I'm personally particularly concerned by U-Pass' effect on middle income students whose student life-fees are not covered by Financial Aid and thus will be paying for U-Pass out of pocket.

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: Can definitely be improved. The recent resolution supporting UCPD records is definitely a step in the right direction and the Campaign for Equitable Policing has brought about huge improvements. However, it is still a work in progress.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Directing left over Executive Cabinet budget into Annual Allocations. Creating a honorarium pot so RSOs can bring in big name speakers; increasing the money in the Travel fund so student travel can be funded at more than 50%. Finally, increased funding support for new RSOs.

ALA TINEH, Class of 2017

Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes. The purpose of this program is to foster a more inclusive campus climate in which low income students are able to not only participate but lead student organizations. 

Stance on UCPD transparency: The transparency, or lack thereof, of the University of Chicago Police Department greatly affects our campus and the surrounding community. As such, I am a strong proponent of providing the opportunity for student leaders to work with student government, the administration and the UCPD to increase transparency. 

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Having been treasurer for other RSOs on campus, I fully sympathize with how difficult it can be to receive funding, especially for young RSOs. The RSO funding process can be improved by simplifying the process or, at the very least, offering better resources to RSO leaders. One possible solution to increasing awareness for SGFC’s policies is to encourage the committee to hold office hours a few times a quarter, similarly to annual allocations. During these office hours, RSO leaders would be able to have a SGFC member look over their budget and maybe help identify weaknesses or areas for improvement.

PEGGY XU, Class of 2017

Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: I am a supporter of the efforts of the Coalition for Equitable Policing and am glad to hear about the recent passing of the HB3932 house bill.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? I’d like to see a larger portion of the Student Life Fee be allocated to student organizations. I also hope to advocate for higher fund limits for RSO travel and large events, as well as for lower fundraising requirements for these student organizations.

ASYA AKçA, Class of 2018

Stance on U-Pass: I am very pleased with both the fact that a referendum occurred this year on U-Pass which allowed for the students’ voices to be heard in the decision making process, and also on the fact that the Office of Financial Aid agreed to cover the costs of this program for students on financial aid.

Stance on trauma center: There is no question that the South Side needs a trauma center. I definitely think that Student Government should help facilitate dialogue between the students on campus about this issue, and I acknowledge that there needs to be greater conversation between the city and the University. I am, however, happy to see progress being made with the UCMC’s recent decision to admit 16-17 year olds into pediatric trauma care.

Stance on student leadership stipend program: After the unsettling introduction of the stipends program for SG cabinet positions in Fall 2014, I was very pleased to hear about the new Student Leadership Stipend proposal which focuses on providing stipends for student leaders of RSOs in a quest to promote greater participation in RSO leadership by students who might not be able to financially support themselves otherwise.

Stance on UCPD transparency: Despite recent progress, there is still more progress that needs to be made. A greater push for a University-wide open data plan would not only make UCPD more transparent, but would also encourage student innovation.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? In order to make the RSO funding process as coherent and objective as possible, there needs to be a greater accountability structure and potentially a greater check on SG’s funding bodies to ensure that the process is as formulaic as possible.   

COSMO ALBRECHT, Class of 2018

Stance on U-Pass: A very enthusiastic yes!

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: I'm an active member of the Campaign for Equitable Policing and an intern for State Rep. Christian Mitchell, the chief cosponsor of HB3932, which will require the UCPD to be held to the same accountability standards as any public law enforcement agency. I wholeheartedly support a UCPD that keeps us safe without alienating students and community members of color.

How can the RSO funding process be improved? Fostering better relations between leaders of RSOs on campus and members of College Council is essential to understanding the distinct funding needs that each organization has. I propose that CC strive to increase the transparency of the Student Government Finance Committee (SGFC), as few members of the student body concretely understand the process of allocating funds.

CALVIN COTTRELL, Class of 2018

Stance of U-Pass: Yes. I support U-Pass. The University has promised to help those on financial aid with the costs which is a huge win for first generation and/or low income students on campus; however, participation in the U-Pass program will help everyone better take advantage of one of the university's greatest resources: the City of Chicago.

Stance on a trauma center: Yes. The University should build a level-1 trauma center. It is a shame not only on the university but the political system as a whole that there is not a trauma center on the South Side of Chicago.

Stance on student leadership stipend: Yes. I support the stipend program. Students put in so much time into RSOs on campus that balancing their studies and working may be impossible. The stipend program will help students with financial difficulties focus on the most important part of the college experience: their studies and RSOs.

Stance on UCPD Transparency: Yes. UCPD should have to report all of the same data that other, public police departments have to report. Students often forget that the UCPD patrols a huge swath of the South Side and many problems that UChicago has with surrounding communities can be tied to the UCPD. UCPD transparency would help to fix these problems by building trust, and allowing for certain parties to be held responsible when there are policing inequities.

RSO Funding: I feel RSO funding should be streamlined. After talking to several RSOs I have found the process to be overly complicated and that the funds are not given out equitably. If elected I would try to find ways to better fund newer RSOs.

ERIC HOMBERG, Class of 2018

Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: Transparency leads to more equitable policing, which is why I have helped lead an effort to push the Illinois General Assembly to pass a bill that would hold the UCPD to the same transparency standards as public forces. Just last Friday, the House passed that bill with a vote of 108-0, which is an exciting step in the right direction!

How can the RSO funding process be improved? I am confident that SGFC can budget its funds better to remove the need for small RSOs to do fundraising by continuing to improve internal accounting.

EMMA MADDEN, Class of 2018

Stance on U-Pass:Yes.

Stance on trauma center: Yes, it is extremely important for Hyde Park to have Level 1 trauma center.

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Student leaders vie for their positions not for their own sake, but because they truly care about making change in the community they love. Therefore, this will and ability to make change should be compensation enough. As a founder of a non-profit organization I know for a fact that if you are truly invested in a cause, payment should be secondary to a call to action.

Stance on UCPD transparency: The recent move of the UCPD to release records of incidents in the community is a great first step in the direction of transparency, but more needs to be done. Students have the right to be involved in their own safety.

How can the RSO funding process be improved?  With over 400 RSO’s on campus,we need to make sure every organization gets the support they need from student government. There needs to be a more streamlined and efficient process by which RSO’s are reimbursed for expenses and small RSO’s are able to gain footing and establishment. Improved budgeting, better access to funds, and simpler application processes for becoming an RSO and gaining funding would be steps in the right direction.

MICHAEL MENG, Class of 2018

Stance on U-Pass: No—1) Not subsidized by administration means burden on many students - especially those who do not use it ~3 times a week. There are many students on the cusp of receiving financial aid especially who would be hurt by this. 2) UChicago shuttle expansion ( including to the Red Line ) would be helpful.

Stance on trauma center: Yes—BUT it should not be solely the University's financial burden. I agree the existence of a trauma center in the South Side is crucial, but I believe the financial burden should be shared with the city.

Stance on the student leadership stipend program: Conditionally—financial need and time commitment must be strongly assessed with the application available to everyone, not just SG. I strongly opposed the initial stipend program in Fall 2014.

Stance on UCPD transparency: Very necessary and beneficial

How can the RSO funding process be improved? I served on SGFC as a first year and will serve on Annual Allocations and have strong insight into the funding body. I believe it should be expanded beyond four voting members with one tie-breaker, oftentimes the negotiations are very insular and opinions do not greatly reflect those of the community at large. I believe that past funding decisions including applications and comments should be made more public for RSOs applying for funding to be able to look at and review. There needs to be more public input and influence upon this committee to hold it accountable to the RSOs they serve. Finally, I think that SGFC needs to hold office hours.

PREETHI RAJU, Class of 2018

Stance on U-Pass: Yes

Stance on trauma center: Yes

Stance on student leadership stipend program: Yes

Stance on UCPD transparency: Yes

How can the RSO funding process be improved? A coherent stance on RSO funding that does not change from year-to-year or case-to-case would give new RSO's more chance to be heard and evaluated. It feels that sometimes similar funding cases are rejected from different RSO's; our funding committee does wonderful work, but it's difficult at times to interpret our current rules and consistently apply them.

Editor's note: The Maroon staff has condensed candidate responses. Additionally, two candidates for College Council—Ted Barrett and Blaine Crawford—were unable to be reached for comment.