If we on the Communiqué Editorial Board had it our way, we’d combine the aspects of all five SIPASA Presidential candidates – Nick Mider, Olivia Snarski, Rachel Boehr, Shreevardhan Sinha, and Marmik Joshi — to create our ideal President. Each candidate has an impressive resumé, commendable past achievements, and reliable leadership qualities. After our interviews with the candidates, we believe that they all have the talent, capacity, and persistence to achieve their self-written goals. In our endorsement, we looked for a match between the candidates’ aspirations and goals and the needs of the SIPA community, rather than focusing on their past achievements and experience.
Mider hopes to strengthen OCS and build stronger relationships with alumni. This is important and extremely relevant, given that OCS and our alumni are critical platforms to launch our careers. On the same lines, Snarski promises to work to revamping the Professional Development Program to make it a powerful career tool for students. Snarski, either through personal experience or by hearing the voices of her peers, has understood the strong sentiment to make the program more effective. The current employment market has raised concerns and anxiety over the job search task. Both Mider and Snarski deserve recognition for putting this on top of their agendas.
Sinha, on the other hand, places a larger emphasis on academics – the reason most of us come to SIPA in the first place. He promises to work on improving the quality of courses, as well as provide students the option to work on a ‘thesis’ in lieu of a capstone project, thus offering students more options and better content.
Boehr’s candidacy comes with a unique offering – more experience with Columbia University by virtue of being an undergraduate student here. She was involved in student government then, too, and claims to understand the system better. Her big ideas for SIPASA are to integrate the student groups better and interact more with other schools in the University.
Finally, Joshi has many big ideas, a few of which are far-fetched. He plans to launch a website for students to raise their concerns and track SIPASA’s progress. Formation of this public opinion sphere sounds feasible, given that SIPA has two large student-run websites already – Communiqué and The Morningside Post. Joshi also addresses a major whine among the student body – the registration process. He proposes an alternative system like bidding for classes, something that is currently practiced at Columbia’s Business School. While this change does not seem likely in the immediate semester or year, it is important that a President communicates the students’ voices to the concerned authorities. The same goes for his other more ambitious promise to work with the SIPA administration on a loan assistance program. Although this program would benefit the majority of SIPA students, the change seems far beyond the jurisdiction of a SIPASA President and more like an empty promise.
However, we at Communiqué like the way Joshi thinks. He seems to understand the biggest concerns of the student body at large, and promises to work on finding solutions for them. For this reason, we endorse Marmik Joshi for SIPASA President 2012.
Food for thought for the next President-elect would be to draft a longer term vision for the school that addresses the larger issues that cannot be resolved or improved within one year. Strengthened career services, a better registration processes, and more effective collaboration among student groups are some of them. It will be highly beneficial in the longer term if no President loses sight of these larger goals. We also thank the current board for their contribution in improving student life at SIPA and appeal to them to make an effective transfer to the new board.
On a more serious note, we asked each of the candidates their position on an important policy question: the plight of the poor-quality bags given at orientation. Each of their responses had great solutions and big promises. Whoever wins the election, in this area, it looks like we have hope!
Remember to vote on Monday, November 19th from 9:00am—4:00pm using SIPASA’s online ballot!