The 2012 Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) Presidential and Vice-Presidential election season began this week with announcements by four current WSA members of their candidacy. Current WSA President Zachary Malter ’13 is seeking re-election with Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee Mari Jarris ’14 as his running mate. WSA Coordinator Arya Alizadeh ’13 will challenge Malter for the position of President, alongside Samuel Ebb ’13, a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, for Vice President.
Malter, Jarris, and Alizadeh each joined the WSA at the beginning of their Wesleyan careers, while Ebb has been a member of the Assembly for one semester. Because all four candidates work together in the current WSA, Alizadeh mentioned that they have agreed to run amicable and open campaigns. He also emphasized the need for cooperation for the remainder of this academic year, before briefly explaining the goals of his administration if he were to win the election.
“At the moment we’re all on the same team, as far as we are looking to finish out this year’s WSA—I can’t say for sure how Zach, if he were to be president again, would run the assembly next year,” Alizadeh said. “But I think significant changes that I would try to bring would be, first off, getting the WSA more out there in terms of being visible to the student body, not only as students who are representing them and talking to the administration, [but] also as resources for other students.”
Ebb also expressed a desire to have the WSA serve as a resource for students.
“It’s about getting people to come in the door and ask these questions, bring them to us, because I think a lot of the time right now people don’t necessarily know that we have these answers,” Ebb said. “People may say, ‘oh let’s build this new building,’ not realizing that if you come talk to us we can tell you the concerns the administration has and look at the broader scope of what’s going on.”
“I really want the WSA to be an enabling body,” Alizadeh stressed. “And what that means is not just enabling student groups and individual students to do their own activities but also to enable those on the WSA to be able to pursue their own activities. As opposed to having WSA activities and student activities as separate things, having members be given the opportunity to pursue things themselves.”
“In a similar vein, having been on the WSA for one semester and [participating in] different student groups and athletics for two years before that, I think there’s a lot of opportunity to bring different parts of campus together and use the WSA to let people have their concerns realized,” Ebb said. “We can really bring the campus together, bring together their concerns, bring together their interests through the medium of the WSA.”
If they were to be elected, Malter and Jarris said that they intend to focus on students’ financial concerns and to build off of past successes.
“Our two main points, the two issues we really want to focus on are first, making Wesleyan more affordable to students, especially in the face of rising tuition costs,” Jarris said. “We want to do things like expand the number of campus jobs, increase the number of free health services. Our second point, in addition is expanding student options, which includes things like getting minors passed, which we just accomplished this last semester, increasing the number of student forums, increasing the number of student art spaces, study spaces.”
Malter echoed Jarris’ statement about their priorities for the WSA.
“Next year is going to be a pivotal year; people are losing a lot of faith in the affordability of Wesleyan, and tuition has been rising and the quality and quantity of services haven’t been,” Malter said. “We need a president and vice president who are going to be able to expand the number of services and options, and stand up to the administration to articulate what are the budget priorities.”
Malter expressed the importance of continuing progress made during his first term.
“I think this year has marked a shift in terms of the WSA becoming more accessible—reaching out to more student groups, being a resource for student groups, working together with other community leaders to make serious change,” Malter said. “I think in the past the WSA had the notion that it had the power to do everything on its own and we’re just simply not as potent of a force if you don’t collaborate with other student groups…I think in the wrong hands the WSA can become insular.”
Though Malter, Alizadeh, and their running mates have announced their intent to run, they have not yet submitted the completed petitions required to officially be placed on the ballot. Petitions for candidacy will be available in the WSA office in Usdan University Center beginning at noon on Friday, April 13. Elections will take place from Monday, April 23 through Friday, April 27, and will be overseen by current Vice President and Elections Committee Chair Meherazade Sumariwalla ’12.