Spring 2010 SBA Election Town Hall
Blogging the Debate LIVE Tonight @ 8:00!
8:09 pm- Bill McGonigle, Director of Elections, starts. Explains that the process - each candidate will get an opportunity to answer first and last. Panel will continue with questions until there are no more from the audience. After which time, we will move on to Senate debates.
Bill turns it over to the Moderator of tonights proceedings, Rebecca Bianchi.
Giri Iyengar- 1L from Section 14 - was an engineer and then was into wine! - He is currently a 1L Senator. His platform is about transparency and integration, he thinks things are going pretty well right now but there is definite room for improvement. Thinks the student body should interact better with the SBA, etc. His impressions as a 1L - people don't really know what the SBA does and he would like to work on this. He would also like to improve student's expectations of the administration.
Rushab Sanghvi- 2L - Cares a lot about the community. Thinks the current SBA has done a great job but wants to focus on career services, wants to improve the CDO even more. Wants to improve communication between the SBA and the student body. Thinks there should be a daily blog where SBA can post thoughts and people can comment. Wants to continue the SBA tradition of hosting great events. While he loves the "alcohol-infused" events, he thinks we should broaden the types of events that the SBA holds. Doesn't want to disparage any candidates and compliments them both.
Theresa Bowman - What she has done and what she plans to do -she has planned all of the class-wide social programming for class years and organized the student orientation for this summer, has built up an excellent working relationship with the law school deans and will continue to use this relationship to help the student body. Before coming to law school was a broadcast reporter. Wants to make it a priority to establish a flexible exam schedule, also wants to improve the LRW program, to address facilities issues more quickly, improve student communication with the SBA. Thinks this is an important year for the GW SBA- touches on the fall in rankings. Wants to work to be the best advocate she can be.
Dan Janow - "What is the Executive VP?" Deal with social programming, such as Barrister's Ball, and participates with the deans. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and has been a Senator for the past two years. He has much social programming experience, organized bar reviews and organized "Section Slam" which was apparently a slam between sections. He is able to get things done. What is on the agenda for the upcoming year? 1) Flexible schedules - he knows what it's like as he had two exams in a five-hour span last semester. Deans have concerns such as cheating and administration, but Dan thinks that these are workable. 2) Ranking Drop and the Job Search -wants to improve that situation in any way possible. 3) Budget considerations are also a priority. He's done the research and has the experience.
Deep Singh - Served in the Senate for 2 years and is currently a member of the Finance Committee. He represented the greatest section, Section 12. Continuous stream of events from karaoke to Thanksgiving lunch to various events on rooftops, and apparently they had t-shirts that the professors wore. Wants to make sure that people feel a sense of community. Expects to continue this, he's a relationship type of guy. Has talked with the administration about problems facing fellow students. Wants to focus on actionable solutions. Looking and caring about people's problems and coming together to fix them. Taking the next step of "action." Addresses the ranking drop and the CDO issues. Gives a nod to the lovely Liz Westbrook, she guided him his 1L year. Wants to make sure we're accessible, Vote Singh.
8:27pm - Rebecca "The Moderatrix" Bianchi opens it up for questions.
Question #1: What have you all done to prepare for these positions?
Giri - has gotten a sense from observing and sitting down.
Rushab- read the by-laws and constitution and has spoken to friends about the President's position and plans to sit down with John and talking to him about the position.
Theresa - has spent most of the last 2 years preparing for this job. She has been on the Senate, involved in the Finance Committee and the Academic Committee. Specifically, has talked to other VPs on the Executive Board. Has talked to 1L and 2L Senators - she's talked to everyone.
Dan - has spoken with both the President and the VP about their roles. Has exchanged emails with the VP of Programming as well as the Career Services Liason
Deep - past 2 years in the Senate has given him a chance to observe how it works. Not limited to the actual Executive Board but also moving down to the directors. He has talked a lot with them about what it's like to do the day-to-day work. Has talked to fellow students because they are the people that must feel comfortable in speaking with him. The past two years have been an entire process building up to this position.
8:31 pm- Question #2: 2Ls are struggling right now with finding employment. What specific ideas do you have that will help get people get jobs when they graduate? Also, what can you do to get professors to turn their grades in on time?
Rushab - Career-wise students are suffering all over the country - would love to get everyone jobs but that is just not possible. Suggests searching for jobs available outside what the CDO does. As to the grading, he doesn't think the SBA can really do anything but can try to work with the administration to get them to grade in a timely manner.
Theresa- Addresses the grading problem - one of her professors didn't have the first semester grade in until April and agrees that this is important. She became the liaison between the professor and her section and tried to discuss such concerns with the administration. Thinks it's imperative that the CDO discusses the importance of such grades on a career search. As to the jobs- we can't change the economy and there is only so much that the SBA can do for the student body on that front, but really believes that career-mentoring programs are a step in the right directions, alumni database, etc. Thinks alumni mentoring programs would be a good option. Wants to improve education on public interest jobs, etc.
Dan - Thinks the situations are interrelated. With grades, thinks we need to put pressure on the deans in order to get professors to get grades in in a timely manner. Thinks the right way to do this is to speak reasonably to the deans and find out how best to solve the problem. As for jobs, he thinks this is a combination of the economy and the fall in our ranking. Thinks we need to interact with the CDO and find out what is going on there.
Deep- He can summarize the answer to both questions with one work - "relationships." Can solve any problem through the relationships we create. The career search takes work- we can get the CDO make the presentation of resources easier. Build those relationships! For example, during Diversity Week he is organizing a panel to talk about how they obtained their jobs and got on to their particular career paths. Sometimes we're afraid to put ourselves out there and take advantage of that relationship, but we need to promote that relationship between the SBA and the rest of the student body.
Giri - He feels the pain, one of his classes has not yet received grades. Thinks the SBA can use the factors that the deans consider important as leverage. Grades affect the job search which affect rankings. The CDO needs a place at the table and this will give us more leverage. Employment - terrible economy and yes, it will take work, but thinks the CDO can be a bit more active. Thinks the CDO should play the role of matchmaker a bit more.
8:40 pm- Question #3: As President, you'll be working with the Executive Board and in the VP position you'll interact with the Board as well. If elected, how might you choose your Executive Board and how would you deal with any disputes that might come up during the year?
Theresa - In choosing the Executive Board, wants to appoint persons who might raise the profile of GW Law. Wants to try to improve upon the extent to which the Board understands what their job entails. With regard to disputes, part of hat would depend on who is on the Executive Board, would appoint people that are easy to work with.
Dan - As VP you're elected as well and should have a voice in what goes on. Thinks that the ability to delegate is a key part in what goes on. It is important that you appoint the right people to the different VP positions. He believes that you should choose people with whom you have a relationship, or at least who knows someone else, because you know that person well. Have to do what is best for the law school.
Deep - Takes the approach that these people to whom he delegates the jobs need to be trustworthy, creative, etc., but will not only rely on those people he knows, because he might miss out on some gems. Keep people motivated, this is what a leader does (finger snaps). Need to be there to help the student body when they have problems. How do you solve a dispute? Grew up with two sisters, perhaps there have been disputes over the bathroom, much experience dealing with such situations. Also worked on a lot of teams, much practical experience in handling the situations.
Giri- Wants to talk to the current Executive Board to find out what the job needs. Then would open it up to applications and interviews, if there is a friend who is particularly suited which encourage him/her to apply, but would not feel comfortable excluding others. Dispute resolution - would explain that it is not "people v. people", but would get everyone involved to agree on a desired result. If you let people realize they have the same desires, it is easier to negotiate.
Rushab - In choosing a Board, wants to find people who are truly motivated. Skills through applications process, etc. Doesn't like disputes, but just need to sit the sides down. Everything can work out, can have "beer summits." Would want everyone to review their work and get involved in the process.
8:53- Question #4 - Are you involved in any other activities that might take time away from doing your job? Do you have the personal characteristics necessary for a job that is high-visibility and in which you might get pointless criticism?
Dan - Captain of the softball team is an incredible commitment (laughter). He has no major commitments, has been committed to the SBA. Has been a Senator for the last two years and has dealt with criticism. Friendly personality, takes everyone's concerns seriously, deals with people well.
Deep - Has nothing else going on. Can dedicate all his time. People already think he dedicates too much time to the SBA now. Does he have the personal characteristics to do this job? He thinks so. Was reelected and still gets emails from Sections 12ers who need help. Look at what he's done and ask those people who have asked him to work for them.
Giri - Any excuse to ignore books is good to him. Likes to have lot to do. Time management-wise looks forward to such a level of engagement. Personal characteristics that would make him a good President, "charming." Reasonably social and engaging, not to toot his own horn. Same qualities that make him a good Senator.
Rushab - Doesn't have any time constraints. Personal characteristics - not the normal characteristics of a pres, but doesn't think this is a bad thing. Cares about everyone he meets and is pretty friendly.
Theresa - The only potential conflict would be mock trial external competitions but probably won't do this if elected. Personal characteristics - worked briefly as a reporter in Fargo, ND (oh ya) and has learned to deal with criticism and being in a high-profile position. Patient, respectful and persistent- these things have helped her with dealing with the administration over the summer.
9:00 pm- Question #5: How will you work to enhance the school's communication with students? Sometimes it seems like there is too much, other times too little. For example, as a 2L organizing certain events, I have a hard time getting through to students.
Deep - Has run a lot of petition campaigns, etc. and has learned that you must get to people in different ways. It may seem like you're getting a lot of stuff, but this just means you'll be getting the message in some way. Thinks the portal redesign is great- there are improvements to be made but would like specific student input. Likes John Sorrenti's Table of Contents in emails. Thinks you need to give people incentives to pay attention, to "cut through the noise."
Giri - Experienced the bombardment of emails as a 1L - thinks there are way too many threads right now, TWEN, the portal, the CDO mailings, etc. If this portal is better than he shudders to think of what last year's was like. Thinks there needs to be a narrowing down of the channels through which information is coming. This will take time.
Rushab - Understands that the many channels might be confusing, but would try to work to get all the information on the portal. Suggests creating one website through which people can be sure to find any and all important information.
Theresa - Thinks that in one sense it's a good problem to have, because this means that there is a lot of information out there. Thinks the portal has improved from last year but would like to take a survey of specific things that people find problematic with the portal. The SBA Website - a revised version is coming soon. Giving people confidence in one website would depend a lot on advertisement- make sure that people know that all the information is there. As for the CDO website, plans to develop the kind of relationship with the CDO where she can give them the kind of criticism that comes from students already in terms of communication.
Dan- Synthesizing information and whittling it down to what is important is a "problem" that comes with law school, so it follows that people won't read every email. Thinks that though the SBA cannot reinvent email but wonders if there is a way to flag important emails.
9:10 pm -Rebecca opens it up to the candidates' closing thoughts.
Giri - Thank you for the chance to answer questions, as it's hard to get things across through flyers and the occasional chats in the hallway. Thank you.
Rushab- Thank you. Thinks everyone should vote to make the community better.
Theresa- Thank you for your questions. Doesn't plan on being the status quo - will bring a lot of creativity and new ideas to the position.
Dan - He would encourage everyone to read the candidates' statements in Nota Bene. Feel free to ask questions as he wanders around the halls, feel free to ask questions and give feedback.
Deep - Thanks everyone, including fellow candidates. Talks about communication and relationships - encourages everyone to tell friends about tonight. Ask questions, he will wear a brightly-colored turban so you can find him in the crowd.
9:14 pm - Rebecca calls down the candidates for Senate.
9:18 pm - things get started up again.
Matt Baker - current Senator for Section 12 and is running for 2L Senator. Has enjoyed being in the Senate this year and thinks he has represented his section well. Looks forward to working with the Senate if elected again.
Jackie Stanley- Current Section 15 Senator. Her role has been to get Section 15 out there and try to get people to know who they are. Thinks her role next year would be to facilitate student comments/concerns in any way, would work with next year's President to do whatever she can.
Giri Iyengar - Running for President and for 2L Senator. Would be happy to be a Senator and looks forward to working with the Executive Board.
Dan Janow - Thinks everyone has done a great job, they will all be great 2L Senators.
9:21 pm - Rebecca opens it up for questions.
Question #1 - What are some things on which the Senate has done well this year? Where do you think the Senate needs to improve?
Matt - With improvements, when he first started no one seemed to know exactly what they were doing. Thinks the student body needs a better idea of what the SBA can do and does do. Perhaps get a fresh groups of Senators and take them aside and explain things. Thinks the SBA - specifically Liz Westbrook - was very good about asking for Senate questions.
Giri - Thinks what the Senate did really well was accept the new Senators as family right away, but also thinks that they were expected to know what to do right away and did not. Thinks that perhaps an educational period would be useful.
Jackie- Agrees with those concerns. Everyone felt approachable and thinks this was a great success for the Senate, but acknowledges that their understanding as 1Ls wasn't where they would have liked. Perhaps there should be meetings every week that are open to others. Thinks that there should be more student engagement. Currently, with Section 15, approaches people often to let them know what the SBA does.
Dan - Acknowledges that as a 1L Senator he felt a bit lost, especially when it came to the budget. Thinks teaching the 1L Senators the inner-workings of the Senate is crucial.
9:27 pm - Question #2- One of the criticisms of the Senate regards finances - that the Finance Committee makes proposals and the Senatorial body acts merely as a rubber stamp. What changes would you make as Senator to this process?
Giri - Thinks on some level this is unavoidable because the entire Senate cannot always be in on every decision. But he acknowledges the frustration because of the obscurity inherent in the process. There is a lot of code that is not clear to persons not on the Finance Committee. Thinks there should be a short hand that is accessible to everyone so that the entire Senate understands what the Finance Committee is doing.
Jackie - Was also frustrated because, while she trusted the Finance Committee recommendations, never quite knew what was going on with the finances. Would appreciate more of an explanation about why the Finance Committee recommends what it does.
Dan - Understands that many times people do not understand how the Finance Committee works, and increased education about the inner-workings of this committee would be a main goal for next year.
Matt - Suggests a "financial statement" that will give a break down of the money available, money spent, etc., each month. Thinks that the Senate needs to take the recommendations of the Finance Committee as just that, a recommendation. Trusts them, but at the same time they are law students, not economic experts. Thinks the Senators need to consider the recommendation but not follow blindly.
9:33 pm - Rebecca opens it for closing statements.
Giri - Thank you. It's been fun getting all these thoughts out.
Matt- Let's try to get more people here next year. It's been fantastic.
Jackie- Thank you for coming out. Thanks Section 15 in particular because she's loved representing them and hopes to represent the 2Ls next year.
Dan - Hopes for controversy next year so there is more of a turnout.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you enjoyed this gripping LIVE blog as much as I. Please remember to pick up a copy of Nota Bene to read about the candidates in more detail, and don't forget to vote!