As voting draws nearer, Mads got in touch with the candidates for VSA President. Please note that we are not endorsing any single candidate.
In this first installment, Jimmy Kelly '09 answers our questions:
Mads: What experience do you have that qualifies you for President?
Jimmy: I have served the student body for my entire three years here at Vassar. I am the longest-serving member of the VSA Council (not just of this year but also of all the members of Council with whom I have served across the past three years), having served my first two years as class president and this year as the Vice President for Activities [...] I have been committed to many committees (such as the Campus-Community Advisory Committee, where we were able to secure the Community Shuttle) and to organizations like Operation Donation, the group I founded as a freshmen, and which has now donated over $50,000 worth of groceries and dollars to Poughkeepsie-area agencies. Additionally, I have served on committees in the local community, and can look at Vassar from a dual perspective as a member of the Vassar community and a member of the greater-Poughkeepsie community.
I believe my service has been about the people first and foremost. When I was class president, I e-mailed regular updates on contentious issues of Council [...] and frequently used that feedback in Council. This year, I helped bring together many organizations in successful partnerships (like the A Cappella partnership) and to collaboratively sponsor the purchase of VCard machines for the College Center [...] This is the most important aspect of my experience - I truly believe that students elect leaders to represent them - and I believe I have been very committed to doing exactly that.
Mads: What issues are most important to you?
JK: There are three main issues [that] have been focuses of my tenure: community (as in community on-campus in addition to our relationship with the surrounding community), inclusion and access (making Vassar more accessible, through options such as the Internship Grant Fund, and recognizing a diverse community that needs to be understanding and accountable for the actions of its individuals, and giving students regular access to the work that the VSA leadership is doing), and finally, sustainability (working with the sustainability to foster a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality and working with Cappy to consider the President's Climate Change Commitment which has been signed by the presidents of many other institutions). Beyond the issues mentioned within, I hope to make an explicit bill of student's rights with Security so that students understand security's bounds and vice verse; I hope to ensure that going off-campus is something the VSA considers as a part of student activities, through VCard incentives with local business; securing a commitment from the College for Strong to remain a women's residence; and finally, making the Community Shuttle a mainstay of the campus in years to come.
Mads: Will you bring any changes to the VSA?
JK: [...] I believe that the VSA will be keenly aware of the fact that transparency alone is not sufficient for including student voices; the VSA leadership must actively seek out the opinions of its constituents and communicate the actions that Council is working on. My background is in the kind of leadership that brings people together (as in the formation of many organization partnerships on campus, or in the mobilization of students from across the country to meet with Senators in DC). I thrive on grassroots outreach, and know that the VSA can become a body that recognizes the voices of all of its members.
Mads: If voters should know one thing about you or your platform, what should it be?
JK: I lead by taking actions. If elected, I will ensure that the VSA spends much more time discussing actions that will benefit the student body than on deliberating over changing names and editing bylaws. Student leaders are elected to achieve goals, not to make cosmetic adjustments to the system [...] I have a track record of achieving results for the student body through projects ranging from gender neutral bathrooms to the Community Shuttle, and I will continue in this direction as VSA President.
Check back soon for more interviews from your candidates! You can also CLICK HERE for the full list of candidates and their statements.