Editorials

Editorial: UFB leadership endorsements

By
Monday, April 13, 2009

Tomorrow, Brown students will choose the new leadership of the Undergraduate Finance Board, the body that allocates funding for officially recognized student groups. We strongly urge you to vote for Salsabil Ahmed ’11 for UFB chair and Neil Parikh ’11 for vice chair. Of the candidates running for these positions, they are the best prepared to counter the board’s weaknesses and capitalize on its strengths.

Ahmed recognizes that many UFB representatives are unwilling to learn the details of the student organizations they are responsible for, and thus unprepared to evaluate funding requests. During her time as a UFB representative, Ahmed has overseen the budgets of more student groups than any other member of the board, and she has advocated diligently for them. She represents the behavioral shift that UFB must undergo, and she is committed to actively ensuring that each representative meets regularly and repeatedly with the groups in his or her purview.

The other candidate for UFB Chair, Jose Vasconez ’10, is also an accomplished current UFB representative with a record of familiarizing himself with his groups. But his stated priorities are unlikely to foster the flexibility and cooperativeness needed to make the board more responsive to legitimate student requests. While Vasconez proposes to train representatives in general budget-evaluation techniques, they would be better served by firm requirements to understand their groups individually and in depth.

As UFB vice chair, newcomer Parikh would bring a valuable outsider perspective to the board, countering the unresponsiveness that too often characterizes representatives’ interactions with the groups they should be fighting for. A distinguished veteran of student finance, Parikh secured thousands of dollars in event funding for the 2011 Class Board last year as treasurer; he now serves as the organization’s president. He is also secretary of the Brown Activities Council and treasurer of the PLME Senate, among other extracurricular position that demonstrate an impressive commitment to Brown student activities. He has given nearly two dozen presentations before UFB, and he knows that the board needs to publish more data on its allocation process and work more closely with the students who rely upon it.

Parikh’s competitor, Juan Vasconez ’10, is a competent UFB representative who is admirably willing to admit his own mistakes and those of the board as a whole. But he can’t rival Parikh’s wealth of ideas and comprehensive grasp of the board’s shortcomings and potential.

Too often, UFB seems like a distant, arbitrary bank for Brown’s student groups. Salsabil Ahmed and Neil Parikh are well-prepared to guide it towards greater responsiveness and transparency.

Our UCS endorsements will appear in tomorrow’s issue.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.