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Monday, June 24, 2024
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Meet the candidates: UB Council student representative

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 election for the UB Council student representative, who will represent all UB students, will take place online from April 16-18. An email will be sent to students later this week. Last year, about 2 percent of the student body voted.

Name: Daniel Ovadia

Year: Senior

Major: Business

Current position/extracurricular activities: 2012-13 UB Council Student Representative, chief public relations officer of a student investment group in School of Management, a Western New York Prosperity Scholar

Daniel Ovadia believes one of his biggest assets is his incumbency.

As the current student representative of UB Council, Ovadia is running for re-election. He said the first semester is mainly building the relationships with the council. He said his familiarity with other members and the position will allow him to do more.

"I have gotten a lot of experiences at UB," Ovadia said. "A diversity of experience gives me a diversity of contacts and a diversity of understanding, which is invaluable in speaking with the Council."

Ovadia believes communication is the key to the position, and he plans to continue to use the Coalition of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL) as his main outlet. COAL, a group created by Graduate Student Association President Jonathan Knights, consists of the seven presidents of the student governments, the chief justice of the Student-Wide Judiciary and the student representative to the UB Council. Ovadia uses COAL to gain feedback and report his findings to the council.

"It's great to get their perspectives because sometimes what you find is the [UB Council student representative] doesn't necessarily get the full perspective - they are getting the perspective of the school they are in," Ovadia said. "By having this organization ... I am able to make sure I am bringing to the table the real concerns."

This past year, Ovadia, a former SA senator, has been to different university meetings, like the Faculty Senate, Professional Staff Senate, SA Senate, Assembly and many others, he said. He feels the student governments have the ability to reach out to each of their constituencies, and he thinks embracing this is vital to the position.

Ovadia, if elected, plans to address some issues in particular: graduate exam prep for students, the University Heights, student safety and financial aid. He plans to speak with students to get their input on these issues.

He encourages students to vote and to approach him with any concerns they are having.

Name: Robert Golightly

Year: Junior

Major: BA/MA in economics and BA in mathematics

Current position/extracurricular activities: Sports club council coordinator, SA senator, SA finance committee member, cross country and track club member

Robert Golightly has been involved with student governments his entire college career. He is now trying to move the skills he has learned to the UB Council.

He said he has spoken to students and the majority of them do not know what the position of student representative to the UB Council is. For that reason, he wants to open the visibility of the position, if elected.

"Putting a student in a position where [he or she has] a voice that has to be listened to is a good opportunity to really engage the people who are ultimately making the decisions for the university," Golightly said.

His experience as the sports club coordinator required him to be the advocate for 37 clubs, Golightly said. He got to know the students and was forced to reach out to his constituents. He admits it is different from representing the entire student body, but it gave him experience of representing the needs of other students.

He thinks it is important to be on campus constantly talking to students.

"As a representative, you can have your own ideas and agenda to push ... but really, it is important to have the various student input because with a campus this big, there are varying opinions," Golightly said.

Student safety, student debt and tuition increases are at the forefront of the list of concerns, he said. He plans to speak to students about these issues so he can be the "voice of the student body" but also "an ear for the administration."

He believes having a healthy relationship with the student governments is essential to being an effective representative. He also said reaching out to student publications like The Spectrum and Generation is important to educate the students on the issues.

He wants to build a dialogue with the students and wants to get started as soon as possible.

Name: Nigel Michki

Year: Freshman

Major: Computational physics

Current position/Extracurricular activities: Catholic Student Union treasurer, UB nanosatellite team member, partner on a project converting math textbooks from English to other languages to assist international students

Nigel Michki has a message for those who think he is too young to be the student representative on UB Council: "Age does not necessarily bring wisdom."

The freshman admits he might not be the most experienced candidate, but he stresses he is a fast learner and keeps up-to-date on the issues.

He said he is not a politician and calls his platform "ballsy," because the first words on his platform read: "I don't have a platform."

He believes students should be the ones deciding what issues are important. He said his goal, if elected, is to get feedback from students and involve them in useful discussions with administrators.

"I'm going to bring a very different perspective to this role as a whole," Michki said. "I'm a physicist. I don't really play the whole political game, so I try to do things as directly as possible."

While attending Grand Island Senior High School, he spent a year and a half working with administrators from the five schools in the district on a capital project. The team of 25 - consisting of administrators, community members and Michki, the only student representative - tried to determine a financial plan to improve the area's five public schools. The group was able to get a $60 million plan passed.

"It really taught me the ins and outs of how working that bureaucratic circle goes," Michki said. "It might not be the perfect parallel, but it is a very good parallel to what this position entails."

He said if elected, he plans to create a Facebook page that allows students to post any issues that concern them. However, he believes face-to-face communication is most effective, so the page will be just the first step.

He encourages people to contact him with any issues they believe are important or if they have any questions.

Email: news@ubspectrum.com


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