Seven candidates are vying for the opportunity to be the 2023-24 University Council student representative.
The student representative is the only student-elected member of the UB Council and acts as a liaison between the student body and the council. The position is unpaid.
The council serves as the primary oversight and advisory body to the university and its president and senior officers. It’s responsible for reviewing the university’s major plans and actions in the areas of academics, student life, community and alumni relations, finances, buildings and grounds. The council also makes recommendations to benefit the university in mattress of community and alumni relations.
All members besides the student representative are appointed by the governor.
The elected student will sit on a 10-member board and represent the 30,000 students at UB.
Students can to vote through UBLinked until Wednesday at 11:59 p.m.
Here’s a look at this year’s candidates and their platforms:
Sechrist is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the English Department.
“Treating students as customers rather than learners” is an issue that Sechrist wants to address.
As an organizer with the Living Stipend Movement and Graduate Student Employees Union, Sechrist says as student representative they will advocate for more transparency in the university’s finances, fight for higher wages for graduate student workers, and address the decline of POC retention rates, lack of support for LGBTQ+ students and lack of mental health resources.
“I pledge to raise the issues above and be a tenacious thorn in the side of the beneficent, democracy-loving CEOs that sit on the UB Council,” Sechrist said in his platform. “I also pledge to eat as many crackers and syrupy chunks of cantaloupe as I possibly can at every reception. Perhaps that is the most one can accomplish as a student representative at this institution.”
Sechrist’s platform can be found here.
Valdez is a junior political science major and the president of the Latin American Student Association.
As a first generation student from the Dominican Republic, Valdez says she “struggled to find a place at an institution that is not built for her” but wants to make a change.
As student representative, Valdez says she will push for more DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) advocacy, more culturally diverse food options on campus, more university support of student organizations, increasing accessibility for neurodivergent students, solutions to UB’s “low Latine retention rates,” and advocacy for students’ mental health.
“I want to run for student council student representative, as the saying goes one must be the change one wants to see,” Valdez said in her platform. “During my interactions
with students, the most significant point I have learned is how students feel our institution needs
to do more to support them as students and regular people.”
Valdez’s platform can be found here.
Gorman, an incoming MBA student, president of the Resident Hall Association and executive director of policy for the State University of New York Student Assembly, says his experience in leadership positions and advocacy work inspired him to run for University Council student representative.
Gorman wants to increase access to mental health support, implement initiatives to foster and celebrate diversity, prioritize reducing energy consumption, increase renewable energy sources and minimize waste production.
“I am committed to serving as an effective voice for all UB students on the University Council,” Gorman said in his platform. “I will continue to represent the student voice with the utmost transparency and communicativeness with the student body. I am incredibly dedicated to the campus and community and hope to be allowed the opportunity to demonstrate this within the University Council representative position.”
Gorman’s platform can be found here.
Jackson, a junior political science and economics major, wants to provide a voice to “bridge the gap between student understanding and representation within the University Council’s affairs” and “demand swift, appropriate action from those who run our school.”
As representative, Jackson says he will advocate for increased availability and accessibility of parking on campus, push for UB to respond to “activities that marginalize members of the community” and commit to making UB more affordable through scholarships.
“My entire college experience has been a series of real-world examples of how decisions made by few, even those made in the public’s best interest, can have a major impact on the daily lives of thousands,” Jackson said in his platform. “Decisions such as the construction of our $37.8 million One World Café, the implementation of a Fall break or even the university’s response to various club-sponsored speakers were all made with minimal input from or awareness of the impact upon your average student. These are representative of the many reasons why I am seeking support in my bid for the University Council student representative position.”
Jackson’s platform can be found here.
Kolukuluri, a graduate student in data science, wants to “advocate for the interests and concerns of all students at UB.”
As representative, Kolukuluri says he will host town halls to inform the UB community on the council’s activities, advocate for mental health resources, increase DEI efforts, provide free to low-cost meals to students to address food insecurity and increase funding for student organizations.
“I am a dedicated and hardworking individual with a passion for serving my community,” Kolukuluri said in his platform. “If elected, I will work tirelessly to ensure that the voice of UB students is heard at the highest levels of the university.”
Kolukuluri’s platform can be found here.
Turton, a sophomore political science major, wants to “lead, empower and innovate” the UB student experience.
If elected, Turton says she will improve on-campus disability student services, decrease UB stampede wait times, implement a food delivery program for sick students, create a centralized website for student resources and host a week-long DEI celebration.
“As someone who has been in student leadership since she was in middle school and even just as a student has seen and felt the struggle of feeling like your opinions are not valued, I know what it means to need a student representative that puts their all into their position and is willing to call out UB for anything that harms the student body,” Turton said in her platform
Turton’s platform can be found here.
Eaton, an incoming law student, says that his prior experience as a member of the New York Army National Guard, a congressional intern and chief of staff of the Undergraduate Student Association (SA) will help bring “professionalism,” “sincerity” and “a solid work ethic,” to the position.
Eaton’s platform includes three key pillars: “engagement,” “experience” and “excellence.”
Eaton says he wants to increase involvement between constituent groups across campus. He also believes that having the experience and expertise of himself and others will help “broaden the horizons” of the university community.
“I pride myself on holding myself to a very high standard in all that I do and motivating those I work with to do the same,” Eaton said in his platform. “My prior experience… has instilled in me a deep dedication to excellence, community service, and success. As University Council Student Representative, I plan to continue this trend.”
Eaton’s platform can be found here.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article listed Yaide Valdez as the vice president of LASA. She is actually the president of LASA. We regret this error.
Kiana Hodge is a news editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org