Meet the candidates for 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.
Elections for the UB Council student representative will be held online on UBLInked from April 19 at 12 a.m. to April 21 at 5 p.m.
Name: Mikael Holcombe-Scali
Mikael Holcombe-Scali, founder of the UB’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter, said the most essential part of his platform is to unite the comprehensive student body.
“For the recent [Student Association] election, only 6 percent of the undergrads came out to vote,” Holcombe-Scali said. “I expect to get at least 20 percent of the entire student body to come out to vote for this election.”
He said the diversity on UB’s campus is large but completely “undervalued” and “under-represented.” Holcombe-Scali said his candidacy is based primarily on getting through to the diverse student population. He wants to get a feel of students’ dreams and hopes in terms of UB’s campus and assess how he can help students mobilize their ideas. He looks to achieve this by bringing together the presidents of SA clubs, organizations, sports teams and Greek Life among others.
Holcombe-Scali said he hopes to give members of these organizations a chance to voice their concerns in order to foster “positive change” and looks to bring the voices of cultural clubs and organizations to the forefront through conferences, which he said will take place at least twice a month for a maximum of two hours.
Holcombe-Scali said founding the chapter of Pi Kappa Phi and bringing it to UB’s campus taught him about a range of issues including “developing a brand, living by that brand, creating culture, leading people by that culture and sticking to those values.”
He said the values that he has acquired include being a gentleman, honor and diversity.
Holcombe-Scali said he was motivated to run for UB Council Student Representative by Pam Stephens-Jackson, who informed him about the position when he was trying to establish his fraternity. He said Stephens-Jackson remains a close mentor.
Name: James Corra
Major: Economics and history
James Corra said during his time at UB he’s had a lot of experiences that have allowed him to gain a perspective on what the ideal student experience is.
Corra, the current SA Assembly Speaker, has also previously worked as an orientation leader, student admissions recruiter for the Office of Admissions and various on-campus departments as a student assistant. He said these experiences have allowed him to develop the qualities of someone who will succeed in the position of UB Council student representative.
Corra’s main goal is to “share the student perspective.”
“I don’t believe this is a position where I can share my own goals, or my own platform. I believe this is a position where I can really share what the students want,” he said. “I’m here advocating for 30,000 students as UB Council Representative and my goal with that is to really share the student voice.”
Corra said he views the position as him “holding the microphone up” for the student population. He said he looks to hold monthly open advocacy forums in the Student Union Theater and Harriman Hall, located on South Campus. He said these meetings will be open to all students and would give them the opportunity to discuss issues that are important to them, including concerns within their clubs or organizations and personal issues.
He said he also looks to attend various meetings of SA clubs and organizations so that he would gain a more comprehensive perspective. Corra said he looks to continue to push the university’s WiFi Boost project and to ensure the rapid completion of the UB Heart of the Campus project.
“[The third floor of] Capen library I think it very essential to students and they’d like to reclaim this space, so advocating for rapid development there is very important to me as well,” Corra said.
Corra said he would also like to continue to advocate for the increase of the athletics fee. He said splitting the UB Athletics and recreation fee is an essential part of his platform. He looks to ascertain whether or not students are looking for an increase in the Athletics fee and address this with UB Council. He also looks to increase communication within the student government.
“I think that I’m the best candidate for this position because of my experience in student advocacy as well as my understanding of what the council representative position truly is,” Corra said. “My opponents are all sharing different pieces of their platforms that are all made in good faith, but many of them are not things that in the purview of the council representatives that can be effectively implemented next year.”
Name: Bree Tom
Year: First-year graduate student
Major: MBA, B.S. in chemical engineering
Bree Tom said the moment she stepped onto UB’s campus she felt a connection and plans to help students create their own connection with the school.
“I want to enhance everyone’s experience and make it as great as mine has been,” Tom said.
Tom said as a student she has “invested interest” in both undergraduate and graduate school “worlds” at UB.
She said when SA was able to bring Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ to campus after thousands of students petitioned, she “saw how much of an impact students actually have.”
Tom said her platform aims to “empower” the voices of students.
She wants to hold biweekly Council of Advocacy and Leadership (COAL) meetings of the seven student government presidents and hold open forum meetings with students.
“I think it’s very important to get the highest leaders of our campus together and unite them and talk about the student issues and come up with plans,” Tom said.
She also said she wants to “build strong financial models” starting over the summer. She wants to have a “truly impactful remodeling” of Sub Board I, Inc. (SBI) by having more internal audits to reduce fees.
Tom emphasized the need to improve communication by bringing in the board of directors into student government meetings.
Tom also said she would attend as many government, senate, and assembly meetings “as possible.” She said she wants the face of the council representative to be known, “so students know their voices are being heard.”
Tom has made an effort to talk with former Student Life, government liaison Mike Lewis and former two-term UB Council Student Representative Daniel Ovadia.
Tom said she will bring “compassion, drive, and commitment” to the position.
“I will do everything in my power to give students what they deserve,” Tom said. “I have made it my mission to understand everything possible.”
Name: Rachel Stern
Year: Third-year graduate student
Major: JD/MBA, B.A. in international studies
Stern said as a student and a current Western New York Prosperity Fellow, she is interested in furthering the academic development of our region and she said UB plays a “huge role” in that.
With her experience as an undergraduate, graduate and professional student, she said she feels she has a lot to contribute to this position.
Stern wants to make changes to SBI by making it easier for student governments to use accounting systems and services SBI offers.
“I’ve been able to see the inefficiency within some of the ways our university systems are run and I advocate on behalf of all students from undergraduate through now,” Stern said. “I’ve always been an advocate.”
Stern wants to change the student recreation fee because she thinks the fee is still “a bit high.” She wants to start charging a fee to graduate students with an “opt-out program.”
Stern said all students should have access to Distinguished Speaker lectures without any additional fees. She said tickets should be provided equally to undergraduate and graduate students on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Stern also said there should be an hourly Stampede bus from North Campus to the downtown Medical Campus.
Stern has been in contact with Campus Life and Services and the University council in order to make these “ideas become reality.”
Next year will be Stern’s eighth year at UB, and she said she wants to make the UB experience great for everyone.
“I want people to feel like they’re included and that they are not just a UB ID number,” Stern said.
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