VSA veterans talk tactics with potential candidates

In preparation for the Vassar Student Association (VSA) elections later in April, the VSA held a “Campaigning Training” meeting this Saturday sponsored by the Women’s Center. The meeting was run by Women’s Center intern, Maddie Taterka, and featured five panelists who held various positions in the past and talked about their experiences campaigning. After the panel discussion, a short workshop took place that allowed students to begin thinking about their campaign and practice talking to each other about their platforms.

Vice President for Operations Deb Steinberg ’14, who oversees the College’s committee system, initially thought of the idea for a campaigning meeting and brought it to the attention of Assistant Director of Student Life/LGBTQ and Gender Resource Judy Jarvis, the event’s contact person, and the Women’s Center. Both Steinberg and Taterka agreed that one of the goals of the meeting was to make students feel more comfortable about campaigning, as well as to help them start to build their platform and campaign strategy. Students asked questions pertaining to past campaigning strategies and panelists discussed challenges the candidates might confront.

The panelists included a wide range of students from different classes and past positions: Kate Dolson ’13, who was a Ferry representative and then served as VP for Academics last year; Deb Steinberg ’14 who was Noyes House President last year and is now on the Executive board; Benedict Nguyen ’15, last year’s 2015 class president and current Cushing House President; and Josh Tempro ’16, a joint committee representative.

Taterka explained, “I know that personally, I didn’t run for any sort of elected position in my freshman year, and a major reason for that was because I was overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea of creating an entire campaign, and I had no idea where to begin.”

She continued, “When I became an intern at the Women’s Center, it was a priority for me to make the Center a place that would foster leadership and confidence in the community of Vassar women, so this seemed like a really great event to take on.”

Part of the Women’s Center’s mission is to empower female-identified students at Vassar and to strive to be a hub for leadership on campus. The staff of the Women’s Center hoped that this event would give potential candidates more confidence, and would encourage greater student participation in leadership positions.

“Running for Class of 2015 President last year, I mostly campaigned in the houses door to door. In addition to helping me feel better prepared to represent our class in my work, it was a great opportunity and excuse to get out of my comfort zone a little and meet lots of people” said Nguyen.

A mandatory candidate’s meeting will take place on April 5 at 5 p.m., right after the filing period which ends at noon. The meeting will be led by Board of Elections Chair’s Devin Griffin ’13 and Clayton Masterman ’13. They will articulate the VSA’s policies regarding the campaigning processs, including rules on budget limitations for each position and poster limitations.

Facebook events are allowed as well as door-to-door campaigning, which is strongly encouraged. Campaigning will be permitted as soon as the meeting concludes.

The voting process begins on April 15 and ends on April 17; students will elect next year’s council anonymously through the internet.

Statements by each candidate can be found on the VSA  website, along with the application notice. Applying entails filling out a personal information questionnaire and submitting a statement of interest.

So far many students have filed for the 2013-2014 VSA positions including Deb Steinberg for VSA President, Dallas Robinson for VSA VP for Student Life, Alison Ehrlich for VSA VP for Operations, Stephanie Goldberg for VSA VP for Activities, and Mike Kaluzny for VSA VP for Finance. However, there are still uncontested elections for a posiiton on the Executive Board, as well as house presidents, and other commmittes.

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