By Michaela Kilgallen and Kelly Saberi
The Undergraduate Student Government Executive Council members made promises in their candidacy platforms last year to enhance student life at Stony Brook.
The Statesman revisited last year’s platform statements to see if the Executive Council members were able to carry out the plans that were promised.
President Garry Lachhar
Last year, then-Vice President of Student Life Garry Lachhar had certain goals for his presidency.
He said in his platform statement that he wanted to work with Campus Residences on improving housing conditions. For commuters, he wanted to introduce more parking options.
Lachhar also wanted to work with FSA and Campus Dining to lower the price of food and create a better dining hall experience
He planned to work on the process of class registration in order to make it easier to navigate. Like many of the others on the executive board, he wanted to create more study spaces for students to collaborate.
At the time of publication, Lachhar could not be reached for comment.
Treasurer Kathryn Michaud
In her platform statement, Kathryn Michaud wanted to improve the relationship between USG and clubs and organizations. She also wanted to make the budgeting process more transparent.
Michaud’s job as treasurer requires her to work 15 hours per week, but according to Michaud, she volunteers at least an extra 45 hours to work with clubs and organizations on their budgets.
One of the goals she worked on was helping clubs develop. Coming into the academic year, she created the club leadership guide in the form of an easy-to-read PowerPoint that Sen. Jennifer Jeng is working on as her Senator Project.
Michaud said in order to be fair to each club during the spring budget process, each budget started from zero and money was added based on need. Once all the essentials were allocated for, she then allowed each club a 20-minute hearing to ask for funding for the items that are not necessary. From there, the budget committee was able to add money for food, apparel and decorations.
“We’re students, and we don’t know how every club functions,” Michaud said. “I didn’t think that it was right for clubs in the past not to see what we were looking to cut and have the ability to fight against it.”
Michaud looked at key performance indicators in order to judge the earning of each club. These include how many club members came to open forums, participation in leadership conferences, how clubs managed vouchers and leadership quizzes.
Michaud said she is trying to make everything more digitized in an effort to reduce the need for paper forms. This would leave less of a chance for documents to get lost and would make sharing files easier.According to Michaud, although she prefers people coming into the office, digitizing will streamline processes and save people time.
“We’re trying to make everything very networked so that way you can find everything much easier instead of having the information in many places,” Michaud said. “You don’t have to sift through everything as much.”
Executive Vice President James Alrassi
James Alrassi considers one of his most notable accomplishments to be the “Senator’s Project Act,” which requires each USG senator to dedicate his or her efforts to one specific project per semester.
“With 22 individual projects all those like the first semester, hopefully it continues that way,” Alrassi said. “Slowly, if you take care of the small ones, the small problems, you’ll have the larger effect.”
Alrassi was passionate about pushing the renovation of Pritchard pool forward. As a senator, he wrote a resolution that called on Stony Brook University Samuel L. Stanley Jr. to include the pool renovation in his budget.
He said that although he was not the sole reason the renovations began, USG played a large role in it.
Alrassi also compiled several loose USG documents into one unified code, which can be found on the organization’s Google Drive. Also included are the meeting agendas, which Alrassi made more accessible so students can learn about what topics will be discussed during that meeting.
Alrassi said he has seen an increase in the number of students not only attending the senate meetings but also voicing their views on USG affairs.
Vice President of Communications Daniel Chung
Daniel Chung aimed to expand advertising and media outreach for events on campus.
Chung said USG has experienced “some ups and downs some bumps in the road but quality of content has improved.”
The USG website has undergone some difficulties. According to Chung, website progress has been stunted because they are unable to locate the username or password for an account.
“We’ve tried to stay more professional and more transparent to students as far as what we’re trying to improve internally and externally whether its relationships with other organizations, whether its our departments or working together with our fellow colleagues as well,” Chung said.
Chung also worked as a liaison between campus media and USG President Garry Lachhar.
Vice President of Student Life
Kenneth Myers’s platform focused on increased consideration of student body feedback and criticism of events.
“We are doing the most concerts that we’ve ever had at this school in I would say at least a decade,” Myers said.
This year, USG also diversified musical genres with artists such as Icona Pop, Lupe Fiasco, 3lau, Streetlight Manifesto, Panic! at the Disco, Twenty One Pilots and B.o.B.
A majority of the Student Activities Board was also interested bringing Rise Against to perform at Brookfest but were unable to bring the band due to scheduling conflicts.
Although it was not included in his platform, Myers revived the Committee on Cinematographic Arts Movie Series.
The program offers free movies such as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Big Hero 6,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Interstellar,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Imitation Game,” “Inherent Vice” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”
Myers also pushed for the passage of new bylaws through the senate last fall to give the Student Activities Board the ability to plan out fall events during the summer.
In response to the recent negative social media response to the musical acts chosen for concerts, Myers said, “You can’t make some students happy without upsetting others. It’s impossible.”
Vice President of Clubs and Organizations Kimberly Pacia
In her platform, Kimberly Pacia wanted to work with clubs more closely and help to develop increased awareness of policies and procedures.
In previous years, it was the responsibility of the club to contact the vice president of clubs and organizations to inquire about budgets. This year, Pacia reached out to clubs to inform them “of their options and what steps they should be taking to hopefully reach line budget status.”
New clubs that applied for Special Services Council funding doubled from 12 last year to 24 this year, Pacia said. She also created a more efficient turnover process.
“Through Google docs, I have documented every step of the SSC process for each club in hopes of making the transition as easy as possible for next year’s VP of Clubs and [Organizations],” Pacia wrote in an email.
The possibility of a creation of club emails was also discussed, but not accomplished. Pacia said that will be something brought up again next year.
Vice President of Academic Affairs Steven Adelson
In 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed SUNY 2020, a plan for predictable tuition increase that allows each State and City University of New York campus to increase tuition for in-state students by $300 over five years. This year, Steven Adelson advocated for the renewal of the legislation, which expires in 2016.
“We went up to Albany after the resolution had passed to speak with assembly persons and state senators about the importance of renewing SUNY 2020 and rational tuition in a new form that is more inclusive of student needs,” Adelson said.
Adelson also worked on student assistant employment restrictions that lowered the maximum working hours from 40 to 29 because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
“It has started a conversation up at SUNY central,” Adelson said. “They’ve done a lot of legal work with it to try and understand if there’s anything that they can do in order to ensure students are able to work the number of hours that they need in order to pay for college.”
Adelson said he spends 10 to 20 hours a week in meetings as an undergraduate representative for various university committees, including the Presidential-Provostial “Graduate in Four” Task Force, the University Senate Committee on Student Life and the Faculty Student Association Board of Directors.
“[The meetings attendees are] discussing issues that directly affect students,” Adelson said. “It can range anywhere from disability services to transportation to first generation students and the resources that they can access to undocumented students and how they’re affected in our community, and a lot more.”
In Adelson’s platform he intended to align East Campus and West Campus library hours as best as possible, which he was able to accomplish. At its May 14, 2014 meeting, the USG senate passed a resolution to request that the university align library hours at the Health Sciences Library and Melville Library in a 19-0-1 vote.
Adelson also had plans to expand USG’s PASS tutoring program, but because the university established its own tutoring program, PASS was dissolved.