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UCS and UFB hopefuls announce candidacies

Drechsler ’15 and Gourley ’16 square off for UCS vice president, while top UFB candidates run unopposed

The race for president of the Undergraduate Council of Students will be a three-way contest between Asia Nelson ’15, Maahika Srinivasan ’15 and Jonathan Vu ’15, while the race for UCS vice president will feature Alex Drechsler ’15 and Sazzy Gourley ’16.

After gathering signatures this week, candidates submitted their official applications at a UCS Elections Board meeting Tuesday night.

Several UCS presidential candidates told The Herald that if elected, they would prioritize bridging the gap between students and administrators and improving student wellness, including mental health resources, campus safety and dining services.

Nelson, a UCS general body member, said her campaign centers around improving aspects of students’ daily lives that administrators may not glimpse. If elected, Nelson’s main project would be implementing a “See It Say It” campaign, a hashtag on social media that would let UCS get direct student feedback on issues such as safety, dining, campus life and residential housing, she said. The Council would then report those concerns to administrators, she added.

“I’ve had my eyes set on the UCS president since I entered freshman year,” Nelson said, adding that she was inspired by hearing former UCS president Ralanda Nelson ’12 talk at UCS general body meetings and former President Ruth Simmons speak during her first year orientation.

Srinivasan, chair of the UCS Academics and Administrative Affairs Committee, said she will seek to reduce the gap between students, administrators and the Council, and to make UCS general body meetings a place where students could discuss “their plans and what they want to take” from their Brown experiences. She described her plans to improve mental health resources, reform sexual assault policy and reassess the effectiveness of campus safety measures.

Advising will also be a key topic in Srinivasan’s campaign, with her platform calling for assessments of concentration advising quality as well as improved job counseling.

Vu, the class of 2015 president and a former UCS alumni relations liaison, wants to bolster financial aid for domestic low-income students and extend need-blind admission to international students and Resumed Undergraduate Education applicants. He aims to resolve students’ dining issues by making different plans more equitable and flexible. He also seeks to expand mental health services.

“We should treat mental health services like the other health services Brown offers,” he said. “When students need them, they should be available no matter how many times students are looking for care.”

Vice presidential candidates touted campus life issues and increasing students’ voice in University governance.

Gourley will campaign on a platform centered on maintaining student wellness, including reforming mental health and sexual assault policies. He will also aim to make University governance more transparent by improving the relationship between students and administrators, the Corporation and UCS, and to streamline students’ experiences using resources such as Brown-Secure and the official Brown online alumni database.

Gourley said he hoped to build on his work with students and administrators as UCS Appointments Committee chair last year and UCS Admissions and Student Services Committee chair this year. “I’m running for vice president because I want to continue to build those relationships,” he said. “I want to extend the work that I’m doing this year to a wider level, in terms of the student groups and administrators, to address the issues that Brown students want to address.”

Though Drechsler did not attend the meeting on Tuesday, he wrote in an email to The Herald that his campaign will focus on adding a student representative to the Corporation and making the University’s highest governing body more accountable to the student body. He will also advocate greater support for service groups, which have been “historically underfunded,” and pushing UCS to reach out to more student groups, Drechsler wrote.

Alex Sherry ’15 is running unopposed for chair of the Undergraduate Finance Board. Sherry ran for the position last spring and lost to Leila Veerasamy ’15, The Herald reported at the time.

Sherry told The Herald he aims to facilitate better communication between UFB representatives and student groups by making UFB representatives undergo more comprehensive training. He also hopes to have UFB representatives tell student group leaders their funding decisions during in-person meetings.

Dakotah Rice ’16 will run uncontested for UFB vice chair. Rice, a UFB representative and an undergraduate representative on the Committee on the Events of Oct. 29, said he wants to make UFB’s decision-making process paperless and more efficient. He also hopes to boost the transparency of UFB decisions by making the board’s meeting minutes publicly available.

Voting for both UCS and UFB positions will take place online April 8-10.

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