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University News

UCS presidential hopefuls declare candidacy

Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Correction Appended.

Robert Bentlyewski ’13, David Rattner ’13 and Anthony White ’13 have officially announced they will run for president of the Undergraduate Council of Students in the upcoming election. Rattner is the current vice president of the council, and White serves as the chief of staff for UCS President Ralanda Nelson ’12. Bentlyewski is not a member of the council.

Michael Schneider ’13 and Brandon Tomasso ’13 will run for council vice president. Zak Fischer ’13 is running unopposed for chair of the Undergraduate Finance Board. No candidates are running for vice chair after the sole contender for the position failed to garner the 400 student signatures required to be eligible.   

The candidates officially declared their intention to run last night, and campaigning will begin today at 12 p.m. The Elections Board and The Herald will host a candidate debate at 8 p.m. Thursday in Metcalf Auditorium and students can vote on MyCourses April 17-19. The results will be announced at 11:59 p.m. outside Faunce House next Thursday.

Though Bentlyewski has never served on a governing body, he said he is a leader on the men’s rugby team and has an “intangible ability to get things done.”

As president, he said he would like to change the structure of the council so that it would consist of 12 elected officials from each class who would hold equal power. He said he believes the restructuring is necessary in light of the recent controversy surrounding the council’s desire to obtain more control over its funding, which brought to light tensions surrounding the roles of UCS and UFB. The council proposed an amendment in February that would allow them to allocate their own budget without UFB approval.

“I really started wondering how UCS could be that disconnected from the student body, because the student body was almost unanimously opposed to that move,” Bentlyewski said. He said he believes the structure is causing this disconnect and should therefore be changed.

According to a March Herald poll, 43 percent of respondents said the proposed amendment affected their view of the council in a somewhat or very negative way. Only 16 percent of respondents said the amendment affected their view in a positive way, while 41 percent said it had little to no effect on their opinion.

Bentlyewski also said he hopes to create a Providence Collegiate Student Council, which would consist of student body government representatives from different colleges and universities in Providence.

Before serving as vice president of the council, Rattner served as chair of the campus life committee. These positions gave him a “strong sense of how Brown and how UCS operates,” he said.

In outlining his qualifications, Rattner pointed to his experience working with Nelson and cited his role in encouraging the administration to donate money for residence hall renovations by authoring a statement decrying the quality of housing at the University. As president, he said he would continue to work to improve the quality of student life at the University.

“I think UCS has a very important place in making sure that the administration, and (the Office of Residential Life) and (Office of) Student Life  listen to what students want,” Rattner said. “That’s what I want to make sure happens.”

He also said he would like to facilitate a discussion about financial aid issues at Brown, such as implementing universal need-blind admissions and revamping the council’s focus on the student body. He said the controversy surrounding the proposed UCS amendment detracted from the council’s ability to listen to and work on behalf of students.

White, who has served on the council for the past three years, said his experience working with other student groups will make him a more informed UCS president. He recently co-created Brown for Financial Aid and is a member of the Executive Board for Brown Democrats.

“What I think is really important for a UCS president is to have had to have struggled with putting on events in a student group, having struggled with a budget, having dealt with the bureaucracy that the University has,” he said.

If elected, he said he hopes to work on further increasing the student activities endowment to reach their $15 to $20 million goal. He said he plans to do this by loosening some of the strict policies restraining student groups to allow them to fundraise more effectively.

“I think within the next semester we can raise the necessary amount if we work proactively towards that goal,” White said.

He also wants to create a Student Advocate Program, where students who have experience working with the administration can council their peers on issues like financial aid. He said he hopes to increase collaboration with UFB and to keep students more informed through a weekly email to prevent UCS from becoming “an isolated decision-making body.”

Vice-presidential candidate Schneider said his ability to motivate students, along with his experience as campus life and appointments chair on UCS, makes him a strong candidate. He said he would work to increase the student activities endowment, expand first-year seminars and increase the number of sophomore and science seminars if elected.

His opponent, Tomasso, was previously a member of UCS for two years. He said his break from UCS has allowed him to see the council from a fresh perspective. This perspective would allow him to implement better outreach efforts, such as an online suggestion box where students can more easily submit feedback to UCS, he said.

Fischer, who is running unopposed for UFB chair, also expressed interest in improving communication with the council following the issues that arose after the proposed amendment.

Charlene Flores ’15 and Manya-Jean Gitter ’13 will be running for chair of the academic and administrative affairs committee, while Afia Kwakwa ’14 and Kimberly Wachtler ’13 will compete
for chair of the campus life committee. All other campus chairs are uncontested.


A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of UCS Presidential candidate Robert Bentlyewski ’13. The Herald regrets the error.

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