Undergraduate President candidate profiles
The Polytechnic asked undergraduate president candidates to discuss their goals and leadership experience and to reflect on Student Government as a whole. Here are their responses.
[Editor’s note: The following was edited for clarity and for The Poly's grammatical and mechanical style.]
Why do you want to be undergraduate president?
I want to be undergraduate president, because during my time as class president, albeit a great experience, I felt I was limited in terms of my reach. A huge goal of mine was to create connections between students, and I really liked the idea of bringing together people from different classes and groups, however on class council, our main focus is just on our own respective class. My hope is that being undergraduate president, I will be able to encourage more cross-class events for this to occur. I’m in this for the students, and to hopefully facilitate the connections for others that I know I was so lucky to have formed through my own activities.
I am running for re-election as undergraduate president to continue the impactful projects and initiatives I began in my first term. I have attended every undergrad council meeting in the past three years, so I have a deep understanding of the history, function, and purpose of the council, which gives me the foresight to set direction for the future. As a whole, I have a passion for collaborating with others towards improving the wellbeing of students at RPI, and in this role I could make great strides towards this goal.
Describe your experience in student government.
My prior experience in student government (or I guess you could say current) was being 2023 class president for 2019-2020. I had never done student government before and it was a bit of a “why not” decision that made me run in the first place, but I definitely don’t regret it. I’ve had so much fun working with the people in my council, [although] there have been times when things weren’t always going as smoothly but that can be expected of just about anything, I definitely learned a lot about myself and leadership. We held a few events, such as serving free hot chocolate and coffee, and even an ultimate ping pong tournament. However, I think the biggest takeaway for me was being able to see other people bring up their ideas. I really enjoyed seeing how everyone kind of built off of each other. We had one great idea that unfortunately wasn’t able to happen, but the plan was to do a 2023 takeover of the Union. The evolution of that idea was pretty significant, but I remember leaving that meeting very happy that we finally came up with a great idea that everyone was on board with (for the most part).
I was elected as the 2021 class president during freshman elections in 2017, a position which I held for two years. During that time, I was an active member of the Undergrad Council and led many successful events for my class. For the past year I have served as the undergraduate president. My main initiatives in this role have been to formalize meeting procedures, restructure the UC bylaws, and define a budget policy for expenditure of class dues. These initiatives have been successful in increasing communication and knowledge transfer between Class Councils. I am additionally an active member of the Student Senate, serving as the Web Technologies Group chairperson for the past year.
List your campus activities, including levels of involvement, positions held, and awards received.
My extracurriculars include the following: student government (obviously), a lot of wrestling (so yes there actually is a wrestling team on campus), as well as helping start the Kappa Phi Lambda chapter here at RPI. Whatever time I’m not additionally in class, sleeping, or working out, that is all spent in the warm and cozy booths of Commons Dining Hall, where I attempt to not drink my weight in soup as I work.
Apart from student government, I am part of Gamma Nu Eta (the IT Honor Society), Phalanx, and the Ski & Snowboard Club. I have also been a resident assistant for the past three semesters.
Name three short-term goals (within your term of office) and three long-term goals (beyond your term of office) that you have for the Undergraduate Council.
The goals that I do hope to achieve within my term in office is hosting an all-school type of event involving both Greek life and clubs to allow for students to both see the available options, in a non-formal setting and for people just to meet people- creating connections. In addition to that, I’d also like to see more council involvement in general with clubs, multicultural organizations, and Greek life as I feel they are all very important assets to maintaining the well-being of our student body. Lastly, creating more interclass events to again, create connections across students but as a whole. These in effect define my long-term goals for undergraduate council, which would be creating a more holistic approach to planning events, that is not just the councils themselves but also working with other groups, specifically Greek life. Creating a culture of curiosity about other people, meaning that members of undergraduate council would be more inclined to go out and just meet people. Finally, as controversial as this may be, be willing to take a few risks, because sometimes you just never know what might happen.
- Improve training for new Class Councils and Class Council members.
- Coordinate several undergraduate-wide events with the Class and undergrad Councils.
- Restructure and improve council documentation for greater permanence and discoverability.
- Increase engagement and involvement from class members, creating a better sense of community.
- Promote a focus of Class Councils on discovering and addressing constituent concerns.
- Further involvement of Class Council members both on their councils and in other areas of student government.
In your own words, what do you feel are the roles of the undergraduate president, the Undergraduate Council, and the Class Councils?
The role of the undergraduate and class councils at least for me, is looking out for the well-being of our peers. Class councils specifically focus on their own cohort, but essentially we are there to both represent and lift up our student bodies. As far as the role of undergraduate president is concerned, their role is to help guide the class councils/undergrad council and listen to the concerns that may be brought up. Council work is teamwork, regardless of your position. While being president obviously entails more responsibility, as you preside over meetings and such, it’s also about being a team player and working with your council to solve any issues that may come along the way. We are servant leaders, here for the students.
The role of the Class Councils is to create a sense of community and togetherness for their class through programming and working to address the issues facing their constituents. The role of the Undergraduate Council is to facilitate communication and knowledge transfer between Class Councils. The UC is also responsible for approving budgets of the Class Councils and coordinating events across all class years. The Undergraduate President is responsible for setting direction for the undergrad and Class Councils and working with other student government leaders to address big picture issues facing campus.
What do you think are the incumbent Undergraduate President’s strengths and weaknesses? What would you do to improve upon them if you were elected?
The current undergrad president, Evan Lazaro, is in fact a very strong leader. His strength lies in his experience, which I can’t say as much for myself as I am still learning. He also communicates well, offering insight that I know I have asked for when I needed it. I may not be as experienced as he is, also considering that I am a freshman, but I am quick to learn. In terms of communication, I believe that I am also an effective communicator as well. Experience is something that comes with time, and that is time I am willing to put in. One thing I can add however, is my ideas and attentiveness to really listen to the members of my council. While not considering this at all a weakness of the current Undergrad president, I know that I would make my best effort to make sure everyone feels heard, as I believe all ideas are of value because you can build off of any idea.
As the current undergraduate president, it is difficult to answer this question without bias, however I will do my best to be objective. First, my passion and motivation to improve have led to numerous much-needed changes to the UC. Furthermore, my involvement and knowledge of other areas of student government has been advantageous in keeping the UC aligned and informed about issues facing campus and student government. However, one of my largest challenges thus far has been delegation. It is important for leaders to align members with the group’s objectives and distribute work evenly. But, as a goal-oriented person, at times I end up doing much of the work myself. Going forward, I plan to better delegate to and engage with the members and officers of the Undergrad Council to better accomplish our goals.