Every year on Wesleying, we typically have a very sassy interview with the WSA presidential and vice presidential candidates (a tip of the hat to the venerable frostedmoose and the awesome Roxie for their extra sass-tastic features, which you can see here and here). It’s a shame that we don’t have any other candidates like last year’s dark horse favorite Keith Conway ’16 or the frostedmoose-proclaimed “Vanilla” Zach Malter ’13, but we’re making due.
Read after the jump to meet Grant Tanenbaum ’15, the only person running for WSA President this year (minus a hilarious April Fools’ “opponent”, a prank orchestrated by Kate Cullen ’16 that nearly gave Grant an ulcer). This is the first post of two parts on the prez, so stay tuned.
So this is going to be boring: Tell me about your platform.
Grant Tanenbaum: So Nicole Brenner ’15 (WSA VP candidate) and I are really focused on steering the WSA towards clear, accomplishable goals, things that are both feasible and align with student interests. Sometimes the WSA can get itself wrapped up in problems that are just too big for it to handle, and it stalls all the other worthy projects and goals that it may have. We really just want to keep it focused and keep it on track.
Rad. What specific projects are you hoping to work on?
GT: Something simple we want to do is create a uniform common application for getting funding on Wesleyan’s campus. So whether it’s from the SBC, SALD, or the numerous other places you can get funding for your student group or activity, we want to make that one coherent process.
A bigger thing we want to do which is a bit more of a hurdle is ending Residential Advisors’ judicial role. This is something that a lot of other schools have looked at and seen the problem with, and we think Wesleyan is at a moment in time where they can also see that this is a system that’s to the detriment of the residents and to the RAs. All it means is that when RAs have a judicial role, residents don’t see them as “advisors”, someone they can go to as much for help, and we think that’s a waste of RAs’ time, and it’s sad that residents don’t have someone they can go to for help. At the end of the day, we just don’t think students should be policing other students. It’s not what people come to Wesleyan to do.
No one really gets this: What’s the difference between the president and the vice president?
GT: It’s a really good question and really differs from year to year. A little history: The vice president used to be automatically the head of OEAC, the Organization and External Affairs Committee [Interviewer edit: It’s a committee where no one actually understands why it exists]. Starting this current year, we made the VP a more independent figure, someone who could pursue projects on their own, could be an Assembly-wide leader. It’s always good to have someone who can check in with other members and can keep the ball rolling on longer initiatives.
So the president’s job is to guide the Assembly, to run the Executive Committee, to be the face of the Assembly, and to connect with the administration to make sure students are being properly represented.
The perception of the WSA on campus varies greatly but could be described as pretty meh. Are you going to try and change that on campus, and if so, how?
GT: I think the WSA gets a lot done that people don’t know about, but I think it’s in our interest and the students’ interest to inform them better about what’s happening on this campus and what we’re doing every day to steer it towards student interests. But that’s on us; that’s totally on the WSA to do a better job of saying what’s going on. I also think that perception is rounded in past events where the WSA has dropped the ball. If we want a good reputation on campus, it’s up to us to earn that.
How’s the race been going so far as “that kid”, aka the unopposed candidate?
GT: Well, the race was going great…until the WSA fabricated a “challenger” for me on April Fools’ Day that I completely fell for…Kate almost put me in the hospital [due to anxiety]…But so far, all of my candidates have been great…
It’s no secret that the WSA has had issues getting students involved in its initiatives and forums. How do you plan on getting students to participate?
GT: I think the big way to get students more involved is just to make the WSA more appealing. If we’re talking about issues that are relevant to students, students will come. And at the end of the day, that’s all we can do; we can’t ask people to eat their vegetables.
So here’s another important question: What have you done this past year?
GT: So I’ve been Academic Affairs Committee chair this year, which means my committee works on any issues relating to students’ academic life here on campus. That means work in the classroom or faculty issues or new majors/colleges/minors. Something that might be more visible than anything else is that I was actively involved in bringing Winter Session to campus. Students might remember that I sent out a poll, and I brought that information to the administration and faculty. Originally, that conversation [about Winter Session] wasn’t really centered around if it was something students wanted, and when the faculty voted on whether to bring Winter Session to campus, I’d like to think that once they saw the poll numbers and saw that this was something students actually wanted, they decided to bring it. I think it’s a great example of how the WSA can actually work on things that students want.
What are you going to do about the absurd number of emails the WSA sends to people all the time?
GT: Oh my gosh…so many emails…sent at all the wrong times. I think the student body should receive one email a week from the WSA that says everything we want to say from that week. On the subject of email since it’s so intriguing, I think it’s interesting that the WSA is the only student group that can send an email to all students, and a lot of student groups want to use that, which we of course can’t have because that’d be too many emails. But in that one weekly email that we send, I think the bottom half should be devoted to student groups who want to send information to every student on campus.
Any last messages you want to send the student body?
GT: I’d encourage students to ask me questions and to make sure that they know they can come to the WSA if there’s anything at all they want to fix or change. There’s a group of 38 students on campus who would love to help you out.