Meet the Candidates: UB Council student representative

On April 17, 2014

  • Chris Atkinson. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum
  • David Harary. Courtesy of David Harary
  • Minahil Khan. Chad Cooper, The Spectrum
  • Arielle Mendelson. Yusong Shi, The Spectrum

The UB Council serves as the primary oversight and advisory body to UB and its president and senior officers. Among the regular duties of the council are reviewing all major plans and activities of the university in the areas of academics, student life, finances, buildings and grounds, as well as making recommendations and regulations for the benefit of the university in matters of community and alumni relations, according to the UB Council's website.

The UB Council consists of 10 members: nine appointed by the Governor of New York for seven-year terms and one elected by the students for each academic year. The UB Council student representative election will take place online beginning Tuesday morning. Polls open at 12 a.m. Tuesday and close at 5 p.m. Thursday. The official results will be announced Thursday via email.

Name: Chris Atkinson

Year: Ph.D. Candidate

Major: American studies

Chris Atkinson feels his maturity, experience and personal strength qualify him to be the next student council representative.

Atkinson - a law school graduate and Ph.D. candidate who holds a master's in history - is the current president of Sub Board, Inc. (SBI), a student-owned and operated not-for-profit corporation funded by UB's various student governments. He cites his experience working with numerous student government organizations.

He plans to create an agenda for council meetings with elected student representatives and meet with different organizations to create cohesiveness between different entities.

Atkinson feels students do not know much about the student council representative position because there is a divide among the student body - among majors, economic class and degree type.

"This weakens us in the discussion of student fees, safety and long- and short-term planning," he said.  

He wants to alleviate parking congestion during class peak hours, increase campus safety and strengthen student voices and concerns when it comes to campus renovations and space allocations. He also plans to work with dining services to decrease food costs and increase food options. Finally, he wants to bring students together to talk about student fees and plans when it comes to their college degrees in order to increase their value.

"The decisions made today will impact your degree tomorrow," he said. 

Name: Terasa Hall

Year: Junior

Major: Biological sciences

Terasa Hall's passion for the UB student body stems from her childhood's focus on education. As someone born and raised in Buffalo, Hall said she understands the kind of changes UB needs.

"Education is something that's given and can't be taken away," Hall said. "Once you get it, it's inside of you forever."

Hall wants to focus on UB's transportation and bring about greater awareness of the public transportation students can take to downtown Buffalo. She also wants to implement a new bus line that goes directly from campus to downtown, similar to the Mall/Market or Late Night buses.

Communication between students and UB Council is a key component for Hall. She plans to increase the interaction through email and talking to students in person.

Hall believes she has the qualifications because she was class president of her junior and senior class in high school. This experience motivated her to pursue the position.

Her family has played a big part on the kind of goals Hall takes on. And being the only person in her family to go to college straight after high school, Hall said she is "beating the statistics."

"I wanted to show that I can do greater and better things, not just as an individual, but also as a person from UB," Hall said.

Name: David Harary

Year: Junior

Major: Economics and international trade

David Harary understands, if elected, his power is limited. But he plans to use the title of UB Council student representative to talk to higher administration members and get conversation started between them and the students.

Harary is also planning to create "student advisory committees."

Marketing UB as a cohesive school is a large part of his platform because he believes it is important in promoting academic growth.

"We should be branding the university together," Harary said. "And that's just really bringing people together, and having communication across the table."

As a student from Massachusetts, Harary wants to increase the enrollment of out-of-state students at UB. He believes, through this increase, UB will have the greater national presence that it deserves for being a large and diverse research school. He has already talked to Vice Provost of Enrollment Lee H. Melvin, Vice President of Communications Nancy Paton and President Satish Tripathi about his concerns.

Harary is involved in multiple clubs and organizations, including being an economic research assistant in the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab, founder and president of the Undergraduate Geography Association, treasurer of European Union and treasurer of True Blue.

He is also a member of UB Democrats, UB Republicans, Model United Nations and Delta Sigma Pi - a professional business fraternity. He is also a J. Scott Fleming Scholar.

Name: Minahil Khan

Year: Sophomore

Major: Communication and political science

Minahil Khan says she has learned how to advocate for other people through the various leadership positions she has held at UB. These experiences inspired her to run for UB Council student representative.

"I truly believe this is a position not about pushing your own agenda forward or advocating what you believe the university needs, but [it is about] the people you represent," she said. "So, my goal is to create an open forum with the students and be the facilitator while connecting students to administration."

If elected, Khan, the current SISH council coordinator and an SA senator, plans to reinvigorate the Council Of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL) - a group consisting of the leaders of UB's seven student governments, the Student-Wide Judiciary chief justice and the UB Council student representative.

After discussing student issues with COAL, she plans to hold an open-forum type meeting for students to voice concerns. She has spoken to Student Life's Student Activities Associate Mike Lewis to see if the idea is feasible, and he said it was.

She then will compile a report to bring to the UB Council.

Khan stresses the importance of transparency and accountability, and she plans to have reports ready for students about what happens in each of the meetings she attends.

Name: Arielle Mendelson

Year: Freshman

Major: Psychology

Arielle Mendelson believes that as a freshman, she has three years to work toward bettering UB.

Her goals are to implement a reduced fee or free meal plan for students who are not able to afford the price, to improve facilities in residence halls - specifically the elevators - and to fix seats in classrooms.

In order to accomplish this, Mendelson plans to access UB's pool of alumni to ask them to sponsor some of these programs.

"I'm not speaking on everyone's behalf, but most alumni are proud because UB got them where they are, and they are going to want to support things that we want to do," she said.

Mendelson is a member of the Rules Committee in the SA Assembly, in which she plays a part in altering UB's constitution. She is also vice president of Richmond Hall Council, a marketing intern for Hillel - the center for Jewish life on campus - and a note taker for Accessibility Resources.

She said her experience from being a part of her high school's student government would carry over to help her succeed in this role.

"Leadership experience always shapes people, and I feel like this is definitely going to shape who I am as a leader, even more so than I already was," she said.

Name: James Podwika

Year: 3-2 Undergraduate/Master's degree

Major: Business administration

James Podwika is currently the Common Area Damage representative of Campus Living. He has met with Andrea Costantino, the director of Campus Living, and Jacqueline Hollins, the director of Student Advising, through this position. He believes those discussions have shown him how to facilitate help for students.

Podwika did not participate in an interview with The Spectrum.



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