Editorial: Harris ‘14.5, Gilman ’15 and Sherry ’15 for Brown

Monday, April 15, 2013

Starting Tuesday, students can begin to vote for Undergraduate Council of Students president and vice president and Undergraduate Finance Board chair. While all of the candidates have their strenghts, we are pleased to endorse Todd Harris ’14.5 for UCS president, Sam Gilman ’15 for UCS vice president and Alexander Sherry ’15 for UFB chair.

Harris is a Meiklejohn peer adviser, a three-year member of UCS and a founder of the Brown Political Review, and he took last semester off to work for the Obama campaign. We were impressed with all three presidential candidates, but Harris’ specific ideas for improving the undergraduate experience made him stand out. Harris identified three key issues he would like to improve upon: undergraduate advising, student-alumni networks and community engagement. Improvements in advising, an area that has long been criticized by students, would put students in closer contact with perhaps the University’s most valuable resource — its professors. Harris also promoted improved student-alumni connections as a mechanism for easing graduates’ experiences within the difficult employment market. We appreciate his focus on students’ futures after graduation.

The primary role of the UCS president is to act as a representative for the student body as a whole. We appreciated Afia Kwakwa’s ’14 clear experience within UCS and her engagement with many campus organizations. While she is committed to the issue of UCS relations with the student body, she did not identify clear and distinct priorities she would advance if elected. Similarly, Daniel Pipkin ’14 is knowledgeable about the needs of Brown students and is greatly invested in building relationships and connections with administrators, students and people off College Hill. But we wish he would have leveraged this experience into more specific initiatives rather than a general list of priorities.

While Kwakwa and Pipkin are both able representatives, Harris presented the most articulate and concise position. We endorse him wholeheartedly.

Gilman is running unopposed for UCS vice president, but he must receive the vote of five percent of the student body to win the position. We believe he is well qualified. Gilman is the current UCS treasurer, a Meiklejohn peer advisor and a founder of Common Sense Action, a student group that aims to engage youth voices in politics. Gilman works well with all three presidential candidates and is connected to the Providence community through his relationship with the Swearer Center for Public Service. We are confident he will be successful as vice president, and we endorse him without reservation.

Our decision was more difficult for UFB chair, as we believe that both Sherry and his opponent, Leila Veerasamy ’15, are well qualified. But Sherry suggested a system in which UFB would shepherd student groups through the funding process in order to make the system more transparent. He also emphasized improving efficiency, which is necessary given the University’s limited student activities budget. Finally, Sherry is a former member of UCS and has strong relationships with all three presidential candidates. These connections are crucial, particularly in the wake of last year’s controversy surrounding the proposed amendment that would have allowed UCS to control its own funding without UFB’s oversight. Sherry will serve as a strong leader for UFB, and we give him our full support.

We urge all students to vote tomorrow. Though this should not be the case, UCS elections are often the only occasion when the student body engages with its government. Students should vote for the candidate that best represents their interests as a whole — but we strongly endorse Harris for president, as he is the most promising and inspiring candidate, and we believe he is the right and best choice for the University.


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editor, Dan Jeon, and its members, Mintaka Angell, Samuel Choi, Nicholas Morley and Rachel Occhiogrosso. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.

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  • Anonymous

    I absolutely, whole-heartedly cannot disagree more about the BDH’s endorsement for UFB Chair. I want to vouch for Leila Veerasamy as UFB Chair. I think that the BDH Editorial Page Board has completely discounted and overlooked Veerasamy’s strong passion and commitment to UFB. In dealing with both Veerasamy and Sherry for one of the student groups I am involved in on campus, attending the debate last week, and reading both candidate’s platforms extensively, I would like to offer voters several strong reasons to vote for Veerasamy.

    First of all, she brings a completely different – and refreshing – perspective to UFB. Veerasamy is an international student who came to UFB as an impassioned and eager at-large member, someone who put every foot forward to establish connections and listen to the student body. During my group’s funding meeting with UFB, Veerasamy was very cordial and listened to my group’s request – while many other members of UFB, including Sherry, were quick to point out questions and even interrupt me. I was pleasantly surprised to see Veerasamy try to make my group’s funding request work for everyone – Brown’s finances and the group.

    Second of all, nothing the Editorial Page Board mentioned is an attribute unique to Sherry. During the debate, Veerasamy also pledged to make the system more transparent and efficient. She was candid and honest about how little students know about UFB and how she wants to make it a more welcoming environment. While Sherry was stiff and at times made me feel uncomfortable, Veerasamy was impassioned and excited to be there. During the debate, she showed everyone in the audience – who clapped and cheered her on – exactly what kind of person you’ll be dealing with if you elect her: someone who wants to listen, someone who cares about you, someone who is a joy to interact with.

    Third of all, the Editorial Page Board has chosen not to elaborate on how or why Sherry has “strong relationships with all three presidential candidates.” The simple fact that he was on UCS prior to UFB does not indicate or make any more likelier that he has stronger relationships with any of the candidates, and it certainly doesn’t mean that he is going to get anything more done than Veerasamy when it comes to transparency, efficiency, and UCS-UFB relations. If his lukewarm performance in the debate was any indication, I would say the exact opposite: I find it hard to believe that someone who had such a hard time talking to the student body last week would be equipped to have a strong relationship with UCS.

    So, I do understand that this was a “difficult” decision. At the same time, I don’t understand how the Editorial Page Board could endorse Sherry in a single paragraph that hardly distinguishes him from Veerasamy.

    Veerasamy won the debate hands down and proved why she is the right choice for UFB Chair. I am elated to support Veerasamy & I urge everyone to cast their ballot for her in this week’s election!

    • Paige

      Neither Sherry nor Veerasmy put up a strong performance in that debate; after all, neither knew about the interim reports Professor Tannenbaum mentioned in her question. And both did pledge to improve transparency and efficiency in UFB. The difference is that Sherry spoke specifically about how he’d achieve this, whereas Veerasmy said repeatedly that she had never participated in student government before Brown, and that she didn’t even know what UFB stood for. I’m not saying these factors discount her candidacy, but they strongly weakened her debate performance. Veerasmy clearly had more enthusiasm and clearly had more friends in the crowd. But in a position for UFB Chair, which handles finances for multiple groups, enthusiasm and popularity isn’t enough. We’re voting for candidates who will do the best job, and Veerasmy’s lack of specificity in the debate weighs out her peppy attitude and friends.

    • Anon

      I’m not really sure which debate you went to, but Veerasamy gave a dismal showing.

      I’m sure she’s a wonderful, intelligent person, but during the debate she came across as uniformed, unqualified, and vapid.

  • Anon

    Alex Sherry thinks that the UFB should be able to dictate the editorial policy individual publications it funds.

    • Reader

      Brown Daily Herald is not funded by Brown University in any way

      • Anon

        This is about Visions, not BDH. Presumably the endorsement went out before the controversy broke.

    • Bobby

      The piece published today titled UFB, Visions Controversy Resolved might interest you, considering it contains a statement from Sherry saying that the quote on the petition is a misquote and that he in no way shape or form believes this

      • Anon2

        I don’t know which article you are reading, but the word “misquote” literally doesn’t appear once in the piece you cite.

        Sounds more like backpedaling.

  • Blah


  • A super angry Brown student

    Todd Harris was the least articulate and went around in circles for hours! Not a single thing he said was concrete; after the debate he himself admitted to have lost miserably. This is an embarrassment to my school, and I hope he never wins UCS President.

    • someone in UCS

      An embarrassment? Do you even know what that word means? Please tell me what qualifications you think the other candidates have that Todd Harris doesn’t, or what concrete policy proposals the others had at the debate. If you knew anything you would know that the last two UCS presidents who know all three candidates also endorse Harris. Please do some research before sharing your uninformed opinions.

      • Anon

        Harris: “Brown cannot just focus on buildings, hiring professors, creating new programs or new student services. It has to do all of those at the same time over the next decade at the same level of intensity to move us up in the rankings. If we let one place fall, we are doing a disservice to ourselves. It needs to make sure it has a holistic view of all matters of the campus.” This doesn’t actually give any concrete plans at all; he’s just saying Brown needs to “better itself”… What does this even mean? I completely agree with “A super angry Brown student”

        • Joseph

          I think you misquoted Harris, that quote is Pipkin’s. Agreed on your stance of it though. As for Harris, “What’s really valuable with UCS is that we are students at the same time. … That’s one of the biggest challenges of being UCS president, but it’s also one of the biggest assets, because you’re in student life and surrounded by your peers. … UCS has an obligation to open up these avenues to administrators and to help student groups access administrators. And again, being more public, reaching out, being more fun, changing our messaging.” This doesn’t actually say much, whereas Kwakwa has concrete solutions, such as office hours, dining services (as she’s done in the past through surveys for bigger bowls, new food options at eateries, etc.)

      • Anon

        The last two UCS presidents are not all endorsing Harris – I’m on UCS and you are the uninformed one now

      • UCS PRESIDENT Anthony White

        I have endorsed NO ONE. Please do not attribute things to me that are not try.


        • Anthony White


  • Anonymous

    Todd was the least articulate of all! Shame

  • Anonymous

    What an embarrassment to my school – Todd went around in circles and hesitated for hours; while the other two opponents were much stronger candidates! Extremely disappointed

  • ray


    • Bobby

      Not to get in the way of your internet torches and pitchforks but the piece published today “UFB, Visions controversy resolved” might interest you

    • Anonymous

      I don’t understand what the VISIONs’ want for Autonomy has to do with Sherry

  • Laura

    I felt that both Kwakwa and Pipkin did better than Harris. Kwakwa has served for UFB and UCS, and was clear about her desire to strengthen that liaison. She has accomplished so much through her position as Campus Life Chair, listening to students’ requests for better ammenities such as more water fountains around campus and bigger bowls at the Ratty — and accomplished them! She obtained the biggest budget for UFB to date! She started the New Initiatives Fund for groups on campus that aren’t categorized as official clubs yet so that they could take off and have something to work with before they re-apply the following year. She has had solid results, has listened to the students’ voices, and has a grounded understanding of how both UCS and UFB function. She’s involved in the community and made it clear that this relationship is one she would also like to strengthen. She has been a Residential Counselor for two years and will continue on during Senior year – giving her an understanding of freshmen difficulties and requests even as she grows older and enters senior year. She was real and personable at the debate, spoke with confidence and conviction, and *actually* took a stance on questions asked (whereas the other two opponents tended to avoid the question and go around in circles). Vote Afia Kwakwa for UCS President.

  • Phillip

    “Funding is just bad. Funding is not adequate. … This is another way students are growing outside the classroom, and I think student activities need to be more supported. ” – Harris. WHAT. Vague.

    • Aasha

      Exactly; Kwakwa was the one to mention more detailed recordings and minutes of the meetings and she has a great relationship with UFB since she’s actually worked in it before!

      • Anon

        So did pipkin….

  • Everyone, RELAX.

    All three candidates are qualified to be UCS President, not because of their credentials, but because they all have a passion for student government — something that’s evident in the amount of time and effort they each have put into campaigning for this. Why not just respect that and try and treat your fellow Brunonians with kindness and consideration?

    I don’t know Afia, but I was at the debate and she made some excellent points; I especially liked her focus on international students. Although admittedly a bit theatrical at times, Pipkin’s love for the University was evident in his words.

    And as for Todd Harris, if you think that his performance during the debate was poor, keep in mind that it was a high pressure environment, and on top of being articulate and well spoken, Todd did a fantastic job interacting with the audience and bringing about some laughs. If your concerns are that he was vague and not specific enough about his goals, kindly take a look at his platform, you’d be surprised at how specific he gets, and how concrete his ideas are.

    UCS President is the collective voice of the Brown student body, and excelling in this position requires a touch of kindness, empathy and consideration for others. When I do vote for Todd, it won’t be because of his platform or his performance during the debate — all three candidates did a stellar job on those — it’ll be because he’s the best person to represent the student body at Brown.

    For now, let’s all try to be respectful of one another and not demean ourselves to making trivial insults about otherwise deserving candidates. Regardless of who wins, Brown will have an outstanding UCS President.

  • BurnerBro

    Sherry believes the the UFB is allowed to determine the content of student publications because it funds them. I find that utterly reprehensible and a gross misunderstanding of the role publications play in this community.

  • Vince

    Not sure what debate you went to, but Todd was definitely the least articulate speaker. Daniel Pipkin is a visionary. He cares wholeheartedly about the issues. Of all the colleagues I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during my time here at Brown, Pipkin definitely comes across as one of the most passionate believers in this university.

  • Anon#3

    Just going to leave this here, taken from http://www.browndailyherald.com/2013/04/16/brooks-13-au-14-ramadan-13-holguin-13-ooi-14-and-seyler-15-facing-the-ufbs-dysfunction/ :

    Instead, when asked at a public appeals meeting by VISIONS
    Editor-in-Chief Larry Au ’14 whether he thought UFB had the power to
    dictate the editorial policies of individual publications, UFB At-Large
    Representative and UFB Chair candidate Alexander Sherry ’15 retorted,
    “Why not, we give you guys money” and stated he believed UFB has the
    power to tell campus publications what they can and cannot publish.
    Sherry has since stated he does not remember saying this in the context
    of editorial policy. Of course, there are no meeting minutes to
    accompany his account.

    Sherry’s statement deserves all the outrage the Brown student body
    can muster. What’s most terrifying is that his is a position held by a
    person poised to helm the organization next year. This should signal to
    us that UFB is not only not doing the job it was created to do —
    encourage student co-curricular activity through judicious and
    considered budgeting decisions — but also that the body represents a
    clear and present threat to public, intellectual discourse on campus.

  • Voting for Todd

    Just fyi – the candidates are not merely judged on their performance in the debate, but also in individual interviews with the Herald editorial board and their platforms. I will be voting for Todd because he has proved time and again that he gets things done (Advising Handbook) and cares deeply about our community, and it’s connections to professors, alums, and Providence. Vote Todd!

  • Anon

    Lol. I’m voting for Kwakwa.