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Guo and Schreiber compete for SA External Vice President

By Brian Lin and Talha Arif     9/29/20 11:08pm

The voting period for the special election for the Student Association external vice president position begins on Sept. 29 and will end on Oct. 2. The two candidates are Kevin Guo and Tessa Schreiber, whose platforms can be found on the SA website

SA President Anna Margaret Clyburn appointed Schreiber to interim SA EVP after the resignation of Isabel Wiatt, and Schreiber is now running for the full-time position.

“This opportunity came up and I knew I was in a place where I could dedicate the time and energy to do a good job,” Schreiber, a senior at Hanszen College, said. “Getting appointed as interim [SA] EVP helped because it felt like a vote of confidence from the people who I’d be working with.”

Tessa Schreiber - External Vice President candidate

SA Parliamentarian Nicholas Jerge said after reviewing the SA Constitution and Bylaws, he concluded that there is no prohibition from the interim officeholder from running to complete the term. There are also no additional Election Committee regulations on special elections to fill a mid-term vacancy, according to Jerge. 

“The best comparison to this could be when Executive Committee members run for another EC office in the following term, such as Grace Wickerson's run for president while serving as internal vice president,” Jerge, a Sid Richardson College senior, said. “As long as candidates are acting appropriately by separating the resources available to them by nature of their office and their campaigns, there should be no cause for concern.”

Guo, a Will Rice College senior, ran for the SA EVP position last year against Wiatt. Guo said his platform has expanded from last semester to cater to the unique needs of this semester.

“My previous campaign taught me a lot about the [SA] EVP role, and I [intend] to build upon it and what others, including Isabel, have contributed,” Guo said. “I understand... what common challenges are … and possible solutions to fix them. I welcome Isabel and other students who have taken time away from the SA Senate back to continue to contribute their expertise.”

The Thresher interviewed the two candidates to gather further information on their goals, past experience and qualifications. 

Priorities as EVP

Guo said his major goals, which build off his platform from last year’s election, include increasing transparency and accessibility of the Rice SA, ensuring Rice campus operations run smoothly during Fall 2020 — Spring 2021 and addressing the needs of first-generation and/or low-income students, among other things.

Kevin Guo - External Vice President candidate

“[Wiatt] shared all her values with my current platform — empowering the college senators, reforming the SA [Senate], and increasing civic duty of Rice students by giving back to Houston, as we students are Houstonians as well by attending Rice,” Guo said. 

Guo said he also wants to expand on his goals of improving communication and connecting residential college leaders, which were mentioned as majors goals in his previous platform. 

“Senator Gargi Samarth [from Brown College] specifically mentioned how discussions about formal topics and recent events are efficient through Slack and GroupMe, but there was no group chat for informal senator discussions, making it hard to personally get along with other senators,” Guo said. “I propose a texting group chat among the senators, and will explore the feasibility of a Facebook SA chat, with Senator Hunter Brown’s [from McMurtry College] suggestion.”

Schreiber said her first priority for the EVP position is to make the Undergraduate Standing Committee representatives more visible on campus by helping them engage with administrators and students. 

“When you have two undergrad reps representing the entire student body in a committee that's deciding, for instance, pass/fail policies, “they need to be able to know how to get [student feedback to] ... accurately present undergrad opinions,” Schreiber said. “A lot of students don't know who their reps are and the reps who are appointed to those committees don't have a great support system.”

Schreiber said her second priority is to strengthen the SA’s political advocacy. She said that she would like to work with officials in the Texas government to represent Rice’s interests. 

“A lot of schools do extensive lobbying and work with government officials extensively. And we don't,” Screiber said. “I think we can get something like that off the ground in a much more meaningful way than we have in the past.”

Schreiber said her political advocacy would focus on issues that directly impact Rice students, but said she would still take stances on certain polarizing issues. 

“If [ members of our] student body [are] being negatively impacted by a policy, for instance undocumented students, we're going to speak out on that,” Schreiber said. “It's a difficult thing to decide, but I think it's becoming increasingly easy as the SA tries to become more advocacy focused and more equity-focused.”

Guo said Rice students should strive to improve qualities of all aspects of their lives, but academics should be a priority. 

“Through my discussions with students, there is talk of wanting a similar Pass/Fail grading policy for either just Fall 2020 or even continuing into Spring 2020, or an alternative grading policy,” Guo said. “I am putting this on my platform to let students know that, as EVP, I am in support of such policies, if there is a significant group of students who wish to have it passed.”

Guo said he is also in support of a student-suggested greater investment into the Latin American Studies bachelor’s major at Rice. 

Each candidate’s qualifications

Guo said he has served as the co-president of the Rice University Biosciences Society along with being upperclassman vice president of UNICEF. Guo said he has also attended a Questbridge live session and gathered valuable insight from first-generation and/or low-income students, and served as an ambassador for the Rice Philanthropy fund.

“One role of the [SA] EVP as specified in the SA Bylaws is to ‘coordinate and foster relations with the various segments of the Rice Community,’” Guo said. “I have attended student-invited dinners with President [David] Leebron and Madam [Ping] Sun and found much help from the group's dinner discussions, such as university spending priorities and academic decisions looking forward.”

Schreiber said she has served as Hanszen’s Senator, as a University Standing Committee Representative on the Parking and Examinations and Standing Committees and as the SA’s Director of Government Relations. 

“I've directly served in both the senator role and the [University Standing Committee] Rep position, which are both directly supervised by the [SA] EVP,” Schreiber said. “[Which is why] I am a decent candidate for the role.”

As a University Standing Committee representative on the Parking Committee, Schreiber said she and other representatives organized a survey that received 900 responses.

“We were able to kind of parse down the populations that most need parking and most need discounted parking,” Schreiber said. “And then from that, I was able to present a presentation to the committee saying these are the populations that we need to be thinking of when we're thinking about parking fees.”

What sets each candidate apart 

Schreiber said that because she has been heavily involved with the SA, she has the institutional knowledge to accomplish her goals.

“I'm a pretty establishment SA candidate and I'm aware of that, and I know that lots of students very validly have a lot of concerns about the SA,” Schreiber said. “But my goals are realistic. I'm a practical person and I've thought a lot about the why of why I want this position. I'm here because I think I can be helpful.”

Guo said he believes time management and the ability to regulate stress and not internalize criticism are crucial traits for the SA EVP position.

“A strong candidate must be able to successfully control their emotions and not let them be regulated by outside stresses — I have taken inspiration from Sun Tzu's ‘Art of War,’” Guo said. 

Guo said he also wants to begin a legacy of getting students from majors or backgrounds that are marginally represented or not actively represented in the SA Senate to be elected to positions in the SA Senate. 

“Above all, the ideal candidate is not measured by the number of their experiences, but by their spirit and the willingness to help the students of Rice University as a whole,” Guo said.

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