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Student Association president-elect Jazz Silva discusses win, objectives for term

By Drew Keller and Andrew Ta     2/18/15 4:08pm

Sid Richardson College junior Jazz Silva will serve as the next Student Association president after garnering 525 votes in the 2015 General Election, nearly twice as many as Jones College junior Sandra Blackmun’s 265 or Lovett College sophomore Aishwarya Thakur’s 257.

Silva said she was surprised but excited about winning the presidency. 

“I did not prepare myself for situations in which I won,” Silva said. “I was very much emotionally unprepared for me to win.”

Silva credited her victory to the work of her supporters, particularly members of her own college.

“I didn’t necessarily have a plan of how I was going to campaign,” Silva said. “[But] I had the most loyal, dedicated Sidizens helping me. I definitely didn’t feel like I was doing it alone.”

Silva currently serves as Sid Richardson senator in the SA. Silva said her work on the SA Parking Committee this year demonstrated her leadership abilities.

“I think that parking really got me a core foundation of people who really believed in what I was saying because it’s something everybody can relate to,” Silva said. “I think that definitely helped give my campaign a bit of legitimacy.”

According to Silva, students were much more involved in the election than she expected, especially in light of the issues with the last year’s general election that resulted in a revote. 

“I actually had people come up to me after class and ask how they could help,” Silva said. “I was expecting a larger [number] of people to be jaded about it, and I was so pleasantly surprised that they weren’t.”

According to Silva, she and the other presidential candidates had run on constructive platforms, rather than attacking one another.

“I respect [my opponents] so much as individuals,” Silva said. “Running for SA president, I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve done at Rice. The confidence you have to have going in; the dedication you have to have; you’re not always getting positive feedback. You need to be a strong person to even keep going, and both of the [other candidates] did.”

Silva said she has been talking to current SA President Ravi Sheth in preparation for assuming the office of president. Silva is working on plans to better connect the SA with students.

“My goal, for the longest time, has just been to increase the visibility of the SA,” Silva said.

When asked about her thoughts on the current SA, Silva said that she would not disparage Sheth or the current membership.

“I refuse to criticize the current SA term that’s going out, because they’ve done so much, and the senators have done so much,” Silva said. “I don’t feel like they let anything fall through the cracks.”

Silva said she hopes to increase athlete representation in the SA, support the recommendations of the Rice Education of the Future Initiative and implement the newly revised structure of the student organization blanket tax. However, Silva said she is open to ideas as she finds out more about the role of the president.

“I think it would be a little stubborn and naive of me to go into this with an agenda,” Silva said. “I’m still learning how all of this works.”

According to Silva, she plans to work with the university administration rather than take a more confrontational path.

“The administration [are] our allies,” Silva said. “You should never approach a problem thinking anything else ... You shouldn’t try and get something passed attacking the people you’re reaching out to for help. There’s such a thing as healthy disagreement.”

However, Silva specifically criticized the administration’s handling of Orientation Week Cheer Battle. The administration announced in January that Cheer Battle would no longer be given a sanctioned time during O-Week.

“Students are given this power to govern ourselves,” Silva said. “To have a big decision like that go completely go over our heads, not brought to table — that doesn’t feel good.”

Silva said she would be willing to publicly take stances on issues.

“I would prefer to communicate personally on issues,” Silva said, “[Taking a public stance or making a statement] is an interesting approach. It’s important for students to see if their President is taking a stance.”

Silva said personal communication with students is one of her most important priorities. 

“I want to be agreeable,” Silva said. “I have no other agenda than to make as many students as happy as possible, to serve the community.”

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