Who wants to be your next Vice President?

captura-de-pantalla-2016-11-14-a-las-10-05-52SIPASA election is just around the corner. As policymakers and public servants in the making, seeples must get to know their candidates, analyze their proposals and become informed voters.

The Morningside Post wants to help.

We will bring seeples closer to their candidates.

These are the students that want to be SIPASA’s next Vice President. Listen to their voices, read their ideas and make the best out of your vote.

Krina Huang.


Q: Why is SIPASA relevant for students?

A: Individuals tend to always bond over similar interests. Students as individuals will surely find common areas be it goals, or even subjects like finance, energy or development. The students need SIPASA to represent all of our collective common interests. We are all interdependent on each other. This is the relevance that SIPASA holds.

Q: Why should students vote in the SIPASA elections?

A: As an international student from China, I come from a background where students and the general public does not get to have a meaningful vote for who will finally be the president of our country. The system does not care much about the relevance of voting. The people might choose somebody, but the Council gets the final say in who actually wins. But during my undergrad at Berkeley, I was so motivated. I learnt and witnessed that every single vote counts. We can actually affect the outcome. We have the power and the responsibility to choose who represents us.

Q: Aren’t you tired of campaigns and elections?

A: No. This is my first time in something like this. During undergrad, I saw others go through this process. I am now jumping out of my comfort zone, and it is a great learning process. Yuvi, who is running for President with me, encouraged and motivated me to take the final step of filing my nomination and do this. I see it as a project because that is the best way I can think about things. Since I was involved in project management in immigrant communities before SIPA, this method works very well for me. I worked in evaluation for early age child training in the Bay Area with first-generation Chinese immigrant parents. Coupled with a strong quant background, and experience as a researcher at the Global Footprint Network think tank, I find this a refreshing and educational change. Proactively talking to individuals have pushed me out of my typical statistical thought process. This is a new direction and running for VP here, reminds me why I came to SIPA.

Q: Mention three abilities or skills that our next SIPASA Vice President should have?

  1. Strategic planning – We only have 1 year to accomplish various goals. The VP needs to have the ability to map out agendas and communicate it to the school administration.
  2. The ability to listen to student grievances and present their voices. The SIPASA board represents the student body as whole. We shall need to balance individual and student interests. Individuals could be encouraged to come forward in groups and groups could come together to serve individual students.
  3. Team player – The VP has to support the President and collaborate with other leaders on the board. Many proposed agendas cannot be achieved without team work

Q: If elected, what would you do that no one else could do?

A: I would say my process differs such that it focuses on enriching student life I encourage deep thinking. I have a background of philosophy, history and economy. This has helped me view things from multiple perspectives and really develop in-depth understanding regarding diverse topics. This fits in perfectly with SIPA’s diverse student group. A person might be interested in solar energy and finance. Conventional wisdom might not see the links between then, but I feel that this sort of cross-disciplinary bridge helps fill up the blanks. As graduate students, we have only 2 years to achieve our goals. But I believe that we are all mature and smart enough to grow fast enough within this limited time frame. I am very interested in bringing about programs like cultural exchange competitions and exhibitions. I have been working on a detailed plan for this. I want to reduce prices for retreats, social events and also make available other discounted opportunities.

Q: If elected, what would be different when we meet the next year?

A: Enhanced communication across different student departments and groups. Much more cultural exchange would also be promoted. Students would also be encouraged to be highly active in organisations and events. More workshops would be designed to help students follow their interests. We are also aiming at increasing the visibility of SIPA in a global context.

Q: Are you running because it “looks nice” in your resume?

A: No. This is more about challenging myself. I have not tried something like this before, though I have seen my friends do it. But I know I could do a great job. At the end of the day, a bullet point in a resume does not show how good a VP a person has been. So using this for my resume is not a priority.

Q: Why did you choose to run for that position and not a different one?

A: I am great friends with Yuvi. As a person, I am very supportive and I want to help Yuvi meet his goals. He has large plans that I feel are smart and sensible. Unlike me, Yuvi is naturally outgoing and talkative. We complement each others’ skillsets. The Vice President can affect the functioning of the President. We will draft the boundaries and conditions for our programs together. Since we think so differently, we will be able to help each other through tough spots and decisions. I am a naturally quantitatively inclined person and so will only agree to a plan if it makes complete sense in every way. This will be a great working partnership.

Q: What are your thoughts on the students that are running for the same position?

A: James is from my same Seeples group. He is super talented, artistic and creative. He’s a great guy, a critical thinker and overall an impressive individual. I am enjoying the challenge of running against people I know. But friendship comes before the election. Regardless of the outcome, I am enjoying this whole process.

James Schalkwyk

Q: Why is SIPASA relevant for students?

A: I think that beyond our initial choice of SIPA as a school, SIPASA is the only way that we can impact our experience in here. We need to acknowledge that SIPA administration has a lot of competing interests and demands: the Dean has to raise money, the professors are under enormous pressure to publish, a lot of them are working in administrations, in government, they are all over the place. As students we arrived here thinking that it was all going to be about us but we realize, when we get here, that this is a private research institution and that there is a lot of other stuff going on. It isn’t just about us. So, SIPASA is the only way that we let our voices be heard.

Q: Why should students vote in the SIPASA elections?

A: If we learned anything from last week it is that voting is very important. It is important to realize that most of the things that affect people state of their lives are local, small decisions. If we don’t engage in our local community and the governance of our local community, how are we ever going to effect change at the highest levels?

Q: Aren’t you tired of campaigns and elections?

A: It’s very reasonable for people to feel discouraged after last week. I know that in our campaign we decided to step back a few days to let people deal with it in their own ways. But partly based on the encouragement that I’ve had from professors here at SIPA and from fellow students, it’s important to realize that now more than ever we need to try to be engaged. I think that campaigning can look ugly, it can seem self serving but, ultimately, it’s not about the individuals that are campaigning but about broader issues. As long as people are voting, based on the platforms rather than on the personalities, I think that this election can really be healing, can really be a way to bring the SIPA community together.

Q: Mention three abilities or skills that our next SIPASA Vice President should have?

A: The Vice President needs to be a good delegator, a good organizer and a good listener. We don’t see much of our current Vice President because the figurehead is the president. The president is the person that is supposed to rally the troops and to engage the community. Vice President is, to some extent, the strongest cheerleader. They need to be the pillow upon which the president can lean when they really need to. And also someone to provide kind of a sanity check. I hope that I can be that, that I can help SIPASA president to look the angles, that I can bring smarter perspective when she is kind of caught in some of the more publicly demanding aspects of her job.

Q: If elected, what would you do that no one else could do?

A: I think that some of the strengths that I feel that I have is the ability to set back and consider issues critically. Sometimes I feel quite passionately about things but I am very determined to combine passion for certain issues with an openness to the need of a much broader community. Because as I said earlier this is clearly not about us, we are just supposed to be representing the school.

Q: If elected, what would be different when we meet the next year?

A: A stronger community is a very general term. But I hope that we will achieve a kind of a stronger sense of what it means to be a seeple. That the professors, the second years, the first year; us and our future alumni feel more engaged in being part of the school. Because it is very easy to get booked down in the academics and a lot of us are very concerned about that. But ultimately we want to go out into the world, proud of our alma mater and we want to meet proud seeples and I hope that together we can create that kind of community.

Q: Are you running because it “looks nice” in your resume?

A: I am sure that is true for some people. In some ways, for me this is a little out of my competence. When Katarina first asked me if I would consider running with her as vice president I kind of backed away and said I rather work on more technical aspects than in the prestigious central role. But I realized that it is important for us, if we want to be engaged in policy later on, that we can’t sit in the sidelines forever, talking about issues. At some point you just have to grab the reins and try your best. And that’s what I’m going to try to do.

Q: Why did you choose to run for that position and not a different one?

A: I think that there are a lot of compelling positions that, in some ways, are as important as the president of Vice President. President and Vice President have a particular figurehead role. I chose Vice President because I want to support Katarina but I also want to be able to affect change in a kind of general and technical way rather than being a sort of big popular figure. I want to try and make SIPASA more open. I want to try to make our meetings run more smothly. I want to make our minutes available for everyone as soon as we are finished, those are the kind of technical details that I want to try out and I think the Vice President would be the best way to do that kind of stuff.

Q: What are your thoughts on the students that are running for the same position?

A: Krina is fantastic. We were in the seeples group together. I think she would do an excellent job. But I think that our platforms are quite different. The platform that Krina and Yuvi have put together is focused on the physical experience that we are having here, and I think that is definitely important but I also think that we have to acknowledge that there are always going to be financial limitations. There is a limit to what SIPASA can do. Every now and again we get a new café, but I think that was many years in the working. And ultimately when we look back at our experience in five or 10 years time, I think that a sense of real skills gained and community is going to be much more important to all of us than some of the more material issues that they are campaigning of.

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