With the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) presidential and vice presidential elections taking place from April 23 to 27, The Argus spoke with the current candidates for president and vice president. Presidential candidates WSA Coordinator Arya Alizadeh ’13 and Academic Affairs Committee Member Sam Ebb ’13 spoke to The Argus about their campaign platform.
The Argus: Why do you want to be president (or vice president)?
Arya Alizadeh: The real reason I want to become president is to make the WSA as efficient a body as possible. That will let individual students have really great ideas, bring those ideas forward, and see them come to fruition through the resources and connections that the WSA has. If we have a very well-run assembly, then those sorts of things will happen.
Sam Ebb: As this is my first semester on the Assembly, I have spent a lot of time with other groups and have seen a level of disconnect between groups on campus. It’s hard for people to do some of the things they want to do and I think [by] teaming up with someone like Arya—who has had three years of experience—we can bring our different experiences at Wes and [with] different groups to help bring people together and to help make Wes a better place.
A: What are your qualifications for this position?
AA: My initial qualification is that I know the running of the WSA inside and out. I have served two of my three years on OEAC [Organization and External Affairs Committee], which is really the committee that runs the WSA. Last year I served on the Academic Affairs Committee. The top thing that makes me qualified for being WSA President is that I ran a really effective committee last year. This is a testament to my executive experience and ability to organize people. I think the fact that people approach both [Sam and I] to talk about school issues is important.
SE: I got to see a bunch of different areas of campus, and see the issues that are faced by so many other different groups on campus. Now that I’ve had this semester to learn the intricacies and workings of the WSA, I think I can contribute a lot and that makes me qualified to contribute as vice president.
A: What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected to this position?
AA: The first goal would be to make the WSA truly a resource for students. That is my platform: making students aware of the resources that the WSA has. I think a very eye-opening experience for a lot of people in the community was the meeting we had with the UOC at 200 Church Street, where people were asking and making a lot of demands and statements, a lot of which the WSA was already doing or had the resources to do. But members of the community weren’t aware of that. My main goal is to make people aware that we are here for our fellow students.
SE: What I’ve been working on during my time on the WSA is bringing student groups together. [One way is] through my work with the Inter-Greek Council, where they can have a forum where any student group can submit a request to host an event with one of the fraternities—[that’s] something that can make what student groups do open to the community as a whole. Also [I’ve worked on] bringing in incoming students and helping them get involved with what they want more easily through a first year student social connection program, through which first year students are paired with upperclassmen depending on varying interest.
A: Are there any potential changes you’d like to make to the WSA?
AA: Very small changes. Obviously, some issues that recently have arisen are how the WSA works its Project Budget. I also really want to change how the WSA is perceived by the student body. I want the WSA to be there for students when they want it to be there. If students would rather not have the WSA in certain parts of their experience at Wesleyan, that’s totally cool.
SE: Definitely working on the quality of publicity that we get out to the student body as a whole about what we can do for the student body. Finding some new, innovative ways to get people involved and interested so they can find out what the WSA’s doing and connect with its members.
A: What separates you from your opponent?
AA: I think that Zach and I have a somewhat different approach. He’s run a lot of really great projects that were run through the WSA. But my problem is that they were launched in the WSA, kept in the WSA and haven’t yet gotten out to all aspects on campus. I think my executive experience is going to be something huge. That being said, I still think Zach’s done a great job, I just believe I’ll do a better job with regard to the executive front.
SE: Mari and I do have similar ideas. What does separate me is the variety of things I’ve done on campus, the many different spheres of connection that I’ve had during my three years here, not just within the WSA, but the community at large. And not just concentrating on the 38 members within the WSA, but realizing that there are outside problems too.
A: What are some of the major issues on campus to you?
AA: Starting at the very micro level, people are really ticked about that alarm in Usdan. I’d like to implement a creative solution that serves the purpose that the alarm was installed for, but also allows students to enjoy the space. Another issue is the chalking issue, which has been in the forefront of many people’s minds. People are generally very content and think this is a very good sign for our school. I do think that the potential move away from being a need-blind institute will become a major issue. I think that this is one of the best assets of Wesleyan. Obviously Wesleyan is becoming expensive and we are trying to find ways to lessen that progress of the last fifteen years. I think this will become a huge issue across campus: making Wesleyan cheaper in cost but not cheaper in education.
SE: When we go to people’s doors and we ask them, “What do you not like about Wesleyan?” they’ve got nothing, “What could be changed?” nothing. “What could make [Wesleyan] more awesome than it already is?” Only then do we start to hear little things. The thing I’m concentrated on right now is bringing different groups together.
A: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
SE: One of our campaign ideas is to get Michael Roth playing keys in the Cardinal suit on Foss Hill. It’s another one of those things where we can bring out tons of different people to crazy events. If we get Roth out there people will come see it. Then you can get them coming to events they might not got to otherwise. Creative ways to get people going.
AA: We want him to play the keyboard because he’s an amazing pianist.