Rise Baruch employs diversity and unity to breed community

When Isabel Arias and Derny Fleurima created Rise Baruch, one of the teams running in the Undergraduate Student Government elections, they wanted to bring more diversity into USG.

In order to accomplish that goal, the two looked for people with various experiences both within USG and clubs and organizations around Baruch. Now, they think that the team they put together can really make a difference.

“The people who are on our team are people who are very active not only in USG, but club life in general and throughout campus. … We have people on our team who have started their own clubs, people who have been in USG for years,” Fleurima said in a phone interview. “We try to represent everyone.”

Arias is running for president of USG. She is a sophomore majoring in accounting and the vice chair of USG's finance committee. Fleurima, the candidate for executive vice president, is a junior finance major who works as a tutor at the Student Academic Counseling Center. Ehtasham Bhatti, the candidate for treasurer, is a junior majoring in accounting and minoring in communication studies. Within USG, he currently holds the position of vice president of academic affairs. Andrea Valverde, the secretary candidate, is a sophomore majoring in finance and double minoring in Spanish and mathematics. She is currently the executive secretary for the Collegiate Association of Women in Business and previously worked as a Freshman Seminar Peer Mentor in T.E.A.M. Baruch.

In an interview, Arias elaborated that she was searching for people with similar mindsets who were passionate about USG and wanted to see more diversity in it.

Bhatti, who “joined [Rise] late in the game,” said that he joined Rise because of the team’s message and the people who were in the party.

When joining Rise, “I recognized lots of club leaders, but I also recognized students … who want to make a difference, wanted to increase their passion for student government, just wanted to better the overall environment at Baruch, via club life, via administration, via faculty. Seeing all that passion, seeing all that enthusiasm for next year was very inspiring to me,” Bhatti said.

The party’s platform, as explained on its Facebook page, consists of three values: transparency, representation and unity.

The party’s first step toward transparency would be to expand students’ access to information about USG’s activities and budgets, such as by putting the USG budget on its website. Increasing transparency would be done in two ways. The party plans to work on the USG website and increase its presence on social media. It also wants to post agendas and minutes on the USG website regularly and pass them on to clubs to keep club members more informed, Bhatti explained.

“We want to make sure that every single student is well aware of what USG is doing, is well aware of what’s going on at Baruch, is well aware of how their student activity fee money is being spent, is being utilized by the student government,” Bhatti said.

Arias would also like to reimplement ABC workshops, or workshops explaining appeals, budgets and co-sponsorships. These workshops would be held by the chair of appeals, chair of finance and chair of clubs and organizations, respectively. She hopes that these workshop would help club leaders understand the “very challenging and daunting” processes.

For representation, Rise wants to make sure that it hears all student concerns in order to properly deal with them.

Lastly, unity means creating a sense of community, so that each student feels welcome within Baruch.

As an example of how Rise would reach out to students in Baruch, Arias cited an exchange that took place between Danny Morote, Rise candidate for vice president of legislative affairs, and a person who works in Baruch’s Student Disability Services.

Arias explained that during one of the party’s tabling events, a person from the office came up to Morote to discuss the current situation of a club associated with Student Disability Services, including the lack of visibility on campus and the feeling that club members do not belong in Baruch. Together, they discussed ways that Rise, if elected, could help improve the club’s situation.

If elected, one of the main challenges that the Rise executive board members are likely to face is having to work with people they were campaigning against. When asked about their ways of integrating those people into their USG, Bhatti said that he would make it his goal to ensure that everyone knows what USG’s mission is and follows it. He would also organize social gatherings to make all members of the team comfortable with one another on a more personal level.

“Whoever gets elected—should I be elected as well—I’m going to redirect all those people to the preamble of our USG constitution and that constitution preamble clearly states that your jobs is to serve and represent all students,” Bhatti said.

“We’ve got to make sure that whatever we do is in the best interest of the students, not for ourselves.”