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Stewart, Cohen Pledge to Unite U.C.

By Molly Hennessy-fiske, CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

One day after narrowly winning the race to lead next year's Undergraduate Council, the incoming student body president and vice-president pledged yesterday to represent all students--even as they vowed to move the council away from taking stances on social issues and toward directly providing services to improve student life.

Running as a ticket and boasting the campus' best-publicized campaign, President-elect Beth A. Stewart '99 and Vice President-elect Samuel C. Cohen '00 achieved a narrow victory over two ideological opponents, Jobe G. Danganan '99 and Kamil E. Redmond '00.

While Stewart and Cohen echoed their platform's refrain, "Action, for a Change," Danganan and Redmond had vowed to maintain the council's progressive advocacy on issues ranging from Faculty diversity to a multicultural student center--hallmarks of the liberal legacy of current council President Lamelle D. Rawlins '99 and her predecessor, Robert M. Hyman '98.

Stewart, who won the election by a narrow margin of 48 votes over Danganan, said she is eager to begin work.

"I'm very aware of the closeness of the race," said Stewart, a Winthrop House resident from Columbus, Ga. "But I'm elated as I can be. Now is the time to build some bridges in the council."

She pledged to remain receptive to student input. "My existence is not devoted to squashing anyone's agenda as a representative," said Stewart, a Republican who worked this summer in the office of Speaker of the House Next Gingrich (R-Ga.).

Stewart said that many of her campaign platforms--including putting an end to council concern with larger political issues such as the recent referendum on Harvard Dining Services' boycott of California grapes--may cause controversy within the council. But she said the conflicts will be short-lived.

"I think there are very finite goals that we can set and say 'Yes, we have achieved success on this issue,'" Stewart said, drawing a distinction between larger political issues and those that are of direct importance to students.

"Faculty diversity is something long term that we always have to keep an eye on," she said. "But that will probably not be one of the immediate goals of this leadership."

Rawlins said she was disappointed but expressed hope in the student body's choice of Stewart and Cohen.

"It's obvious that they have a different agenda than I have, but I do wish them luck in serving students," she said.

"I feel like we've been very strong on student services in the past. I'm happy to see that they'll be continuing with that."

Yet Rawlins tempered her comments with a call for the activism she has supported in the council to advance simultaneously the twin goals of social advocacy and student services.

"I feel very strongly that an activist council is not at odds with a council that's concerned with student services," Rawlins said. "We can do both, and do both well, and we have."

Stewart's immediate goals include providing vans for student group transportation, making more funds available to groups from the alumni endowment and finding office space for student groups.

Stewart said groups wary of a conservative council president "have absolutely nothing to fear."

"My [political affiliation] is wholly irrelevant to the pursuit of student group goals," she said.

But Danganan said in an interview that Stewart will be hard-pressed to aid student groups without addressing the social-justice issues that concern them.

"Social advocacy is a key aspect of many students' lives here at the campus," he said.

Danganan said the narrowness of the race was due in part to organizational problems in his own postering campaign. He also said Stewart and Cohen ran a "very organized campaign" but that division within the progressive student community left him at a disadvantage.

"There was definitely a split in the progressive ticket between me and Ben Hulse," Danganan said. The Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance (BGLTSA) endorsed Hulse and Redmond, Danganan's running mate.

But Danganan did say working with other council activists will become harder as Stewart and Cohen take control.

"I can't speak for the rest of the council, but there are a lot of U.C. members that are very disappointed," he said. "I wanted to push for a greater social good through the U.C., through social action."

Danganan said one of his greatest fears is that Rawlins' campaign as president to increase the number of female and minority representatives will be discarded as a political issue too broad for the council's consideration.

"Fro-yo and cable [television] are tangible goals but they shouldn't be the U.C.'s vision of student government," Danganan said.

Stewart said she aims to address the concerns of many students on campus, both the pragmatic--such as her campaign for cable TV--and, eventually, the more broadly political, including Faculty diversity.

"The character of the leadership will try to reach out to people in every faction of campus, not just progressive groups but certainly including progressive groups," Stewart said, describing her vision of the Council as "less stressful and factious."

"The new leadership will have a much more targeted plan of action," she said.

Elected with just a nine-vote lead over Redmond, Cohen said his concerns with student affairs were what made the crucial difference.

"The focus both I and Beth ran on was student services and getting some tangible results," Cohen said of his and Stewart's campaign platform.

But with such a close vote, the question remains whether the council's factions can work together to accomplish concrete goals like universal key-card access.

"The council is going to take a drastic turn," said current council secretary Olivia Verma '00, who ran unsuccessfully for vice-president. "I think it's kind of sad that [the council] will be de-politicized if Beth and Sam's mandate is carried out," she said.

But Cohen was thinking positive last night. He said that although many of the issues he and Stewart plan to address are not "glamorous" and don't "get headlines," the two will be able to bring representatives together to get the job done.

"We can direct more of the council's energy into getting things done," he said. "You really need council members doing the hard lobbying and talking with administrators."

Cohen said that his experience working on the council with other candidates, including Danganan, will actually make it easier for the two to accomplish their campaign goals.

"Beth and I already work really closely with Jobe. He's worked with us, he knows we're all interested in the same thing and that's helping students out."

Cohen, who described himself as a liberal Democrat, dismissed party affiliations as irrelevant to council proceedings.

"Outside politics don't matter," he said, adding that student groups should not fear a loss of either funding or attention due to the council's leadership turnover. "BGLTSA is not going to be slighted," Cohen said. "If they have student issues they need to bring up, we'll certainly address them.

Voter turnout for the election was 3,084, a marked increase from last year. In fact, 4 percent more students voted this year, yet the increase signifies only one percent more votes than the election two years ago.

Redmond, who was backed by Rawlins throughout her campaign, described the election as "challenging," said she "learned a lot" about campaigning during the race. Despite being endorsed by several student groups, including Perspective, the liberal monthly, Redmond said both she and Danganan suffered because of a lack of name recognition.

"I went into it with Lamelle's backing, but it was my first year on the council and I don't think a lot of people knew who I was," she said. "Beth Stewart and Sam Cohen's campaign was very well publicized. We were definitely endorsed by student groups, but Beth and Sam just were more public."

Redmond said organizational and monetary setbacks may have contributed to her and Danganan's narrow loss.

Redmond said she will continue to work within the council and its Student Affairs Committee to support the issue she fought for during the campaign.

Stewart tried to reassure political opponents that they wil still have a voice in the student government. "Most of the council has worked with both Sam and I," she said. "There's no one on the council that thinks our election is the disaster of the century. Some are worried, but they have no need to fear.

"I'm very aware of the closeness of the race," said Stewart, a Winthrop House resident from Columbus, Ga. "But I'm elated as I can be. Now is the time to build some bridges in the council."

She pledged to remain receptive to student input. "My existence is not devoted to squashing anyone's agenda as a representative," said Stewart, a Republican who worked this summer in the office of Speaker of the House Next Gingrich (R-Ga.).

Stewart said that many of her campaign platforms--including putting an end to council concern with larger political issues such as the recent referendum on Harvard Dining Services' boycott of California grapes--may cause controversy within the council. But she said the conflicts will be short-lived.

"I think there are very finite goals that we can set and say 'Yes, we have achieved success on this issue,'" Stewart said, drawing a distinction between larger political issues and those that are of direct importance to students.

"Faculty diversity is something long term that we always have to keep an eye on," she said. "But that will probably not be one of the immediate goals of this leadership."

Rawlins said she was disappointed but expressed hope in the student body's choice of Stewart and Cohen.

"It's obvious that they have a different agenda than I have, but I do wish them luck in serving students," she said.

"I feel like we've been very strong on student services in the past. I'm happy to see that they'll be continuing with that."

Yet Rawlins tempered her comments with a call for the activism she has supported in the council to advance simultaneously the twin goals of social advocacy and student services.

"I feel very strongly that an activist council is not at odds with a council that's concerned with student services," Rawlins said. "We can do both, and do both well, and we have."

Stewart's immediate goals include providing vans for student group transportation, making more funds available to groups from the alumni endowment and finding office space for student groups.

Stewart said groups wary of a conservative council president "have absolutely nothing to fear."

"My [political affiliation] is wholly irrelevant to the pursuit of student group goals," she said.

But Danganan said in an interview that Stewart will be hard-pressed to aid student groups without addressing the social-justice issues that concern them.

"Social advocacy is a key aspect of many students' lives here at the campus," he said.

Danganan said the narrowness of the race was due in part to organizational problems in his own postering campaign. He also said Stewart and Cohen ran a "very organized campaign" but that division within the progressive student community left him at a disadvantage.

"There was definitely a split in the progressive ticket between me and Ben Hulse," Danganan said. The Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters' Alliance (BGLTSA) endorsed Hulse and Redmond, Danganan's running mate.

But Danganan did say working with other council activists will become harder as Stewart and Cohen take control.

"I can't speak for the rest of the council, but there are a lot of U.C. members that are very disappointed," he said. "I wanted to push for a greater social good through the U.C., through social action."

Danganan said one of his greatest fears is that Rawlins' campaign as president to increase the number of female and minority representatives will be discarded as a political issue too broad for the council's consideration.

"Fro-yo and cable [television] are tangible goals but they shouldn't be the U.C.'s vision of student government," Danganan said.

Stewart said she aims to address the concerns of many students on campus, both the pragmatic--such as her campaign for cable TV--and, eventually, the more broadly political, including Faculty diversity.

"The character of the leadership will try to reach out to people in every faction of campus, not just progressive groups but certainly including progressive groups," Stewart said, describing her vision of the Council as "less stressful and factious."

"The new leadership will have a much more targeted plan of action," she said.

Elected with just a nine-vote lead over Redmond, Cohen said his concerns with student affairs were what made the crucial difference.

"The focus both I and Beth ran on was student services and getting some tangible results," Cohen said of his and Stewart's campaign platform.

But with such a close vote, the question remains whether the council's factions can work together to accomplish concrete goals like universal key-card access.

"The council is going to take a drastic turn," said current council secretary Olivia Verma '00, who ran unsuccessfully for vice-president. "I think it's kind of sad that [the council] will be de-politicized if Beth and Sam's mandate is carried out," she said.

But Cohen was thinking positive last night. He said that although many of the issues he and Stewart plan to address are not "glamorous" and don't "get headlines," the two will be able to bring representatives together to get the job done.

"We can direct more of the council's energy into getting things done," he said. "You really need council members doing the hard lobbying and talking with administrators."

Cohen said that his experience working on the council with other candidates, including Danganan, will actually make it easier for the two to accomplish their campaign goals.

"Beth and I already work really closely with Jobe. He's worked with us, he knows we're all interested in the same thing and that's helping students out."

Cohen, who described himself as a liberal Democrat, dismissed party affiliations as irrelevant to council proceedings.

"Outside politics don't matter," he said, adding that student groups should not fear a loss of either funding or attention due to the council's leadership turnover. "BGLTSA is not going to be slighted," Cohen said. "If they have student issues they need to bring up, we'll certainly address them.

Voter turnout for the election was 3,084, a marked increase from last year. In fact, 4 percent more students voted this year, yet the increase signifies only one percent more votes than the election two years ago.

Redmond, who was backed by Rawlins throughout her campaign, described the election as "challenging," said she "learned a lot" about campaigning during the race. Despite being endorsed by several student groups, including Perspective, the liberal monthly, Redmond said both she and Danganan suffered because of a lack of name recognition.

"I went into it with Lamelle's backing, but it was my first year on the council and I don't think a lot of people knew who I was," she said. "Beth Stewart and Sam Cohen's campaign was very well publicized. We were definitely endorsed by student groups, but Beth and Sam just were more public."

Redmond said organizational and monetary setbacks may have contributed to her and Danganan's narrow loss.

Redmond said she will continue to work within the council and its Student Affairs Committee to support the issue she fought for during the campaign.

Stewart tried to reassure political opponents that they wil still have a voice in the student government. "Most of the council has worked with both Sam and I," she said. "There's no one on the council that thinks our election is the disaster of the century. Some are worried, but they have no need to fear.

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