Neither he nor any other member of the UA's steering committee is older than a sophomore, and many have expressed concern that his lack of experience will hurt undergraduate government at a time when it is already reeling from the failure of the highly-touted constitutional convention. The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity brother has also faced charges that his assent to the chair is due to a push by a fraternity bloc within the UA. But despite these criticisms, Winston is upbeat about his chances for success. In an interview with The Daily Pennsylvanian's Helen Jung and Drew Zoller Monday, he promised a back-to-basics Assembly that will focus on issues directly affecting undergraduates. DP: What issues do you think the UA needs to concentrate on in the coming year? Winston: The most important issue we need to deal with immediately is need-blind admissions. That's in jeopardy, and with a lack of funding and cuts from the state, money is tight and we already have a $6.7 million deficit for next year, so need-blind admissions is a problem. When you have too many people on financial aid, you run out of money along the way. We have to get on the ball immediately to preserve need-blind admissions. I think we can get a huge agreement from the student body that there is a definite need for need-blind admissions. It shouldn't be a factor how much money your family has if you can attend the University of Pennsylvania. We have already started a petition drive. By the end of this year, we hope to have a couple thousand signatures to deliver in the summer to the Trustees and to the administration. DP: You said in your campaign speech that you thought the UA had gotten in over its head in the past year. Which issues in particular made you see this happening? Would you have not addressed these issues? Winston: What I'm trying to do this year is find fewer issues that are directly benefitting the student body. Issues that will make the average student say wow, look what the UA's done, maybe they are worthwhile. Certain issues last year were important, but aren't the kind of thing that the normal student who doesn't read the DP cover to cover every day will really care about. For instance, there is the destruction of Smith Hall. While it's a very important issue, and it's the kind of thing where student government should have a say in the matter, it's not the kind of thing where we're really going to be able to come out and make a large effect on the decision . . . I think we should attack things that are affecting the student body. Students care about sleeping -- we should improve dormitories. Students care about eating -- we should improve dining service. Students care about social events, going out at night -- we should improve non-Greek social events. Students care about not getting killed -- we should improve security. These are basic issues that if we can affect and make a little bit better then students will be directly benefitted. DP: Are there other issues you felt the UA wasted its time on? Winston: Yes. There are things that do have their place on the agenda. But the racial harassment policy, that is a huge minority concern. The United Minority Council, that should be one of their largest issues. Every UA meeting I would come to, we spent a good deal of time on the racial harassment policy. And while it was very important and it did have its place on the agenda, I'd rather be doing things that are in our domain as student government. We should govern our own agenda on issues that we feel are important, as opposed to being governed by crisis after crisis that comes around. DP: At your first meeting, one of the issues on the agenda was the racial harassment policy. How does racial harassment fit into your agenda? Winston: Every member of the UA should be responsible for reading the DP cover to cover every day, and they should know exactly what's going on with every issue affecting our campus. I immediately knew that this racial harassment policy, while I don't feel it should direct our agenda for the entire next year, is still a very important issue and every UA member should know exactly what it is and what it means. What happened is that many UA members didn't even know what it was, so I had You-Lee Kim give a presentation to inform students exactly what it is. DP: It seems that you are more interested in focusing the UA's attention on student-related issues as opposed to University policy-related issues. Winston: In the past it seems to me that University policy in crisis situations has governed the agenda of the UA. We were an adequate UA, but every time a conflict would come about, we would handle them one-by-one and work that way, which is very important. But we have to be able to govern our own agenda, come up with issues that the members of the UA are interested in, that they feel are important and that directly benefit the student body. Now we have to balance it so that the racial harassment policy, Smith Hall and Locust Walk -- those are issues that the government should be very concerned with, but we should also come up with our own things that we feel should add to the agenda which should really be more important than things that are just coming about from other people . . . Right now the UA is in serious need of respect from the members of the student body. We only had 21 members running for 16 spots in the College in this last election, which, to me, is a joke. I would like for there to be 50 people running for 16 spots by the end of the year. That, to me, would be a direct indication that we succeeded and we really shed some respect on our organization. DP: How much influence do you think the UA has on the administration and on the Trustees? DP: Is revamping student government still an important goal of the UA? Winston: We're not going to redo the constitutional convention they had every two Sundays last year. What we're going to do is we have a skeleton document in front of us. My ultimate goal is to have smaller conventions and begin with this document . . . and what we'll be doing is taking out certain things, with student leaders, adding other things. My ultimate goal . . . is by December to have the UA pass this constitution so we can bring it to referendum . . . Now if they can get this done by December, approximately, and then take as much time as possible to get this passed, then we can try to run this in the spring election and hopefully get this done . . . I don't think we should change everything . . . I believe things have to be changed and the constitution that was drafted out is a definite improvement on what we have now. DP: Nearly every member of the UA is either a freshman or a sophomore. Do you feel that this will affect the leadership of the UA in any way? Winston: No, I don't. We're not going to be seniors, but we have experience with the administration. We have experience getting opinions from the student body and what we're going to be doing is working together, putting our heads together . . . Experience is important, but I really don't think that it's going to hinder us at all. DP: Several UA members are also members of the Greek system. Do you think this will affect the leadership or the interests of the UA, and should it? Winston: I don't think it should and I don't think it will. . . . As soon as we are on the UA, we have obligations to represent our constituents in the University and not a fraternity or a sorority . . . I plan on running an extremely fair, issue-by-issue Undergraduate Assembly, in which no organization is favored due to their power or their presence. DP: Who in the administration is the biggest supporter for the UA? Winston: Right off the bat, I would say Fran Walker, the director of student life [activities] . . . From my experience, almost every administrator, if approached properly is willing to go to bat for the students . . . There isn't as much against us as is portrayed. If we have a working relationship with all these administrators, I think they'll all be willing to go to bat for us when the time comes.Comments powered by Disqus
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