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Thursday, August 11, 2022
The independent student publication of The Unversity at Buffalo, since 1950

Vater and Keane to Run for University Council Student Rep


David Vater Jr., a graduate sociology of education major and Brendan Keane, a triple major in history, English and classics, have been nominated for the position of student representative of the University Council.

The election had been scheduled to take place online Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but due to a request from Student Association President Christian Oliver, has now been rescheduled to take place Thursday, April 25 and Friday, April 26.

Both candidates have experience in university activities, either with on-campus organizations or with administrative events.

Vater, who described himself as "good at networking and bringing people together," assisted in UB's first and second annual Open Houses, participated in university recruitment activities and is currently studying the impact of technology on education from a sociological perspective with UB's Critical and Cultural Studies of Information Technology Graduate Group.

Vater said one of his main goals is to enhance the university's reputation and the way it is presented to students. For example, he said he would like to make available to all students the video created by Eric Reich, current University Council Student Representative, detailing famous UB alumni.

"I would like to improve upon how people view the school," said Vater. "It's a good school and I don't necessarily know if people know how good it is."

In addition, Vater described the low rate of involvement in student governments as "unnerving," and said he would like to see more students take interest in this area of campus life.

"I was really shocked about how low participation in student governments and elections is," he said. "If we could, over the course of the next few years, raise that number, I think that would translate to students feeling more connected to the university so they're not just coming here for the classes."

Vater said he would also like to improve on-campus parking.

Keane, who served as vice president of the Student Association in 1997, editor-in-chief of Reach in 1998 and campus news editor of The Spectrum in 1999, said he feels "comfortable communicating what students need and can benefit from."

"I have 10 issues, a clear platform and an ability to speak my ideas in a forum where students aren't listened to normally," said Keane.

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Vater described Keane as a "smart, articulate, young man," but believes he would be best for the job because he has had experience as an undergraduate and graduate student at UB and would be able to understand the needs of both groups of students.

The main issues Keane plans on tackling are capping comprehensive fees, providing more student and faculty input in the university budgetary process, reevaluating the athletics budget, improving graduate assistant and teaching assistant stipends, extending the Buffalo Metro to North Campus, ending UB's contract with New Era Cap Co. and creating a student art gallery on campus.

Keane said if he were elected, he would hold an open town hall meeting to allow students to determine the 10th issue he would focus on.

He noted that the comprehensive fee has increased 210 percent since 1995 and supports capping fees at 30 percent of overall tuition. He believes students should be more involved in the process of increasing fees.

"Fees aren't covered by financial aid . students are being gouged straight through the wallet," said Keane.

Vater, however, believes comprehensive fee increases are necessary if the university is to sustain itself with limited state support.

"If you talk about capping, you have to understand that state funding has decreased substantially, yet the universities cannot independently decide what they charge for tuition," said Vater. "They have to get money from somewhere."

Keane said he believes faculty and students should be consulted throughout UB's budgetary process, and is opposed to the initial draft being composed solely by the president, senior vice president and the provost.

"It seems like the process is restricted to a very few number [of people]," he said.

In regard to low GA/TA stipends, Keane said GAs and TAs should "be given fair wages."

"Student teachers are not being paid fairly and the university depends on them," he said.

As another area he would like to improve, Keane cited the controversy in which English professor Barbara Bono was removed as chair of the English department for failure to send an e-mail threatening graduate students with dismissal if they withheld semester grades in protest of their low stipends.

"I don't think adequate inquiry was made by students or student leaders," said Keane. "I don't think the issue is dead; it's something I would like to raise and see again."

As a graduate student, Vater said he is aware that stipends at UB are "low comparable to other universities." The situation is "complicated," said Vater, because increasing stipends may lead to fewer assistantships being made available.

"You can either give a bunch of people the opportunity to go to college and pay them poorly or you can give substantially fewer opportunities, but pay them better," he said.

When North Campus was originally built, there was a plan to extend the subway line from Main Street Station to Amherst. The plan failed due to budgetary and community concerns, but Keane believes it should be revived to connect UB with the greater Buffalo community.

"Should we become so self-enclosed and so cut off from the city, we're going to become insular, provincial and incestuous," he said.

Vater said there would be no way for UB to fund a Metro extension endeavor at this time. "I think it's unrealistic at this point to expect that they're going to complete that project," he said.

Keane supports UB withdrawing from its contract with New Era Cap Company, which he described as a "disgraced company," due to allegations of sweatshop practices in Third World countries and high employee injury rates. "Sweatshops don't violate labor standards only," said Keane. "They violate human dignity [and] they violate human rights."

"By keeping the contract, [UB President William R. Greiner] is taking a stand," he said. "By keeping the contract, we support and profit from what could be sweatshops and if that's our stand, it is reprehensible for any public university or institution."

To provide financial support for UB's art students, Keane advocates the on-campus display of student art that could be made available for purchase from outside buyers.

"[Student artists] make some incredible things," said Keane. "If we could take over all the blank, white walls of UB, put up art and take these open spaces and put sculpture there and put a little code number on them, then people with their money . can say 'I would like to buy 67834.'"

Both Keane and Vater each collected 300 student signatures in order to secure a place on the ballot.

The Web site for the election is http://survey.med.buffalo.edu. Undergraduate and graduate students, both full-time and part-time, are eligible to vote in the University Council electi


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