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Meet the candidates running for UFB

Candidates advocate for two-day Spring Weekend, transparency, club budget increases

<p>Justin Bolsen ’26, current Vice Chair Ian Kim ’25 and Naomi LeDell ’26 are running for UFB chair, while Safwan Islam ’26 and Catherine Jia ’26 will compete for UFB vice chair. </p><p>Courtesy of candidates</p>

Justin Bolsen ’26, current Vice Chair Ian Kim ’25 and Naomi LeDell ’26 are running for UFB chair, while Safwan Islam ’26 and Catherine Jia ’26 will compete for UFB vice chair.

Courtesy of candidates

Voting for the Student Government Association’s Spring 2024 elections opens this Friday at noon. Justin Bolsen ’26, current Vice Chair Ian Kim ’25 and Naomi LeDell ’26 are running for chair of the Undergraduate Finance Board, while Safwan Islam ’26 and Catherine Jia ’26 will compete for UFB vice chair. 

The candidates’ statements were shared via an SGA email this Wednesday.

Voting will close on March 18 at 11:59 p.m. Election results will be announced on the steps of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center at 7 p.m. on March 21 and will be emailed to the student body soon thereafter.

‘A fresh mind’: Justin Bolsen ’26


Bolsen first thought about joining UFB in Fall 2023, when the Board faced budget deficits between the amount of funding student organizations requested and the amount of money available for distribution.

After exploring UFB’s website and reading its statements on budget cuts, Bolsen eventually decided that he wanted to bring more transparency to UFB. “I think the important question is … how transparent you can be with the student body,” he said.

“I’m a good communicator,” he added, which brings “everybody together in a way that the representatives can talk to me and feel comfortable delegating.”

Bolsen also hopes to bolster UFB’s social media presence, which he describes as “minimal” compared to that of the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Class Coordinating Board. “A degree of transparency (on social media) can be helpful,” he added.

In addition, Bolsen aims to streamline the data collection process, as the currently available data regarding student organization funding allocations “is not as accessible as it should be,” he said. “I think everybody in the student body should know what the Student Activities Fund is going towards.”

Bolsen won the Jeopardy! high school reunion tournament last spring and placed second in his most recent appearance two weeks ago. He said his work on Jeopardy! has significantly enhanced his communication skills, especially with authority figures. “I may not have experience with UFB, but I’ve tried to learn the system as best I could from an outside perspective,” he said. “A fresh mind in UFB can be really helpful for the student body.”

Support campus groups: Ian Kim ’25

Kim, who is currently the vice chair, has been a member of UFB since his sophomore year, when he joined as a general representative.

“It’s my last year here to try and (make) some good changes” to UFB, Kim said. He hopes to increase baseline funding for all student organizations and bring back the two-day Spring Weekend

To resolve the budget deficit announced earlier this year, Kim and current Chair Arjun Chopra ’25, were “able to get $700,000 more into the (Student Activities Fund) for next year,” he told The Herald.


Kim’s experience handling finances expands beyond his tenure on UFB. After managing a large budget as the treasurer for another student organization, Kim was introduced to UFB and thought it was “very cool” that UFB, a student-run organization, was able to allocate funds to all student groups on campus. 

Kim added that he aims to increase funding to club sports teams as UFB chair.

“There’s a financial barrier to being on campus and wanting to do a sport, but then having to pay dues and having to fundraise,” Kim said, adding that he hopes to “support these groups more (because) club sports are always growing, and they need the money.” 

In addition to club sports, Kim hopes to allocate more funding to musical ensembles and performing arts-based groups, who have typically been “underserved” by student funding allocations.

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‘A personal connection’: Naomi LeDell ’26

LeDell, who is currently a general representative, told The Herald that she has obtained funding for the largest number of student organizations out of all representatives. “Everyone who I represent gets their money,” she said, emphasizing that she hopes to bring this success to her candidacy for UFB chair.

“I like to think that I’m good at what I do because I really prioritize making a personal connection to the people that I represent,” LeDell added. 

LeDell’s platform has three main priorities: bringing back large, fee-free events — such as a two-day Spring Weekend and a more “extravagant” Senior Week — supporting period product accessibility and increasing funding for events that improve student mental health. 

“I’ve noticed there are a lot of bathrooms around campus that have half-stocked” menstrual products, LeDell said. Last spring, the Undergraduate Council of Students and the Graduate Student Council worked with Facilities Management to submit a one-time funding request for stocking free menstrual products in campus women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms, The Herald previously reported. But LeDell said some locations still lack menstrual products, a deficiency she hopes to address.

LeDell also discussed UFB’s gender gap as a motivation for running. “I was the only woman elected (to be a general representative) last year, and I was really hoping that more (women) would be able to run” for chair this year, she said. “If I can be chair as a woman, next year, more women will run.”

“I want to make everyone’s experience the best that it can be,” LeDell added.

Breaking barriers: Safwan Islam ’26

As a UFB at-large representative serving his first term, Islam has “advised 25 groups and (has) helped them be the most successful, even with UFB’s budget constraints this academic year,” he wrote in an email to The Herald.

“As a UFLI student, I understand how financial barriers in extracurricular and student activities prevent students and student groups from thriving,” Islam wrote in an email to The Herald. “Students should not have to pay to be a part of the Brown experience, nor should groups be limited by what they are capable of doing because of limited funds.”

“I think it’s important for someone with my background, experience and priorities to be the UFB vice chair, so that I can ensure that equity is a priority, and it continues to be communicated clearly with all groups,” Islam added.

Joining UFB “at a difficult time” — when the board worked with a restrained budget in supporting all groups equitably — Islam hopes to “enhance communication with groups” through town halls and increase baseline funding as vice chair next year.

‘Proven track record’: Catherine Jia ’26

Jia — a former first-year representative and current press secretary of UFB — is “deeply passionate about serving the student body and advocating for their needs,” she wrote in an email to The Herald. Jia hopes to bring this passion back to UFB as vice chair in the fall.

In these roles, Jia helped reclassify student groups, reviewed budget requests, led town hall meetings and contributed to the Student Activities Fund expansion, she wrote.

If elected, Jia hopes to prioritize making the majority of campus events fee-free for students to remove financial barriers.

Jia explained that there are three “pillars” to her campaign: clarity, championship and convenience. Jia is “committed to ensuring transparent decision-making practices by providing historical and recent updates on budget allocations,” creating streamlined guides to UFB processes and offering office hours, she added.

Jia also aims to “deliberate with (the Brown Concert Agency) on an appropriate budget that will reinstate their historical capacity,” she wrote. 

“My diverse experiences and proven track record demonstrate my dedication to fostering an inclusive and vibrant campus community,” Jia added, emphasizing that she is “committed to working tirelessly to empower student organizations and enhance the overall student experience.”

Leah Koritz

Leah Koritz is a Senior Staff Writer covering the student government beat under University News. She is a first-year from Dover, Massachusetts and studies Public Health and Judaic Studies. Leah can yas sdrow sdrawkcab (now read that backwards).

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