Last week, The Harbus sat down with Luis Rodriguez (NF) and Sid Yog (NE), recent SA Co-President elects to find out their perspectives and outlook on their new roles.
The Harbus: What are the big parts of your agenda that you want students to know about and are looking forward to implementing during your term?
Luis: I think that when you consider the economic conditions that we face today, a clear priority is for us to deal with the career services, job placement, and job opportunities including looking outside traditional spectrum of investment banking and consulting jobs. We will also deal with the concerns of the student body.
So of all of these, we would first need to reach out and foster a relationship with the career services as well as to talk to all of the section career reps, because it is pretty important for us to have a general understanding of what we have to accomplish. We want to talk to the recent alumni who have been out for 6-7 months and find out their impressions, allowing us to create a proposal that is more inclusive. Then we will go forth and start the dialogue with the career services to see what they think, let them know our perspective, and discuss what things can be accomplished and what can’t, and how things should be changed to maximize our experience.
Sid: Beyond that, one of our macro objectives is to increase the communication between the administration and the student body as I think the SA is basically a facilitator for that communication. We want to make sure that if students have concerns that they are transmitted early on to the administration and that action can be taken quickly and that action actually makes a difference. Similarly for the administration, I think we want to provide feedback as to why things are done and why things are not done to generate what we feel can be win-win situations.
We feel that at the end of the day, 900 creative people, that is students, and the administration are all on the same team and that we can develop solutions that meet all of our objectives. There are things happening now, yet there is some kind of communication gap so we feel that if we cold achieve better communication we at least have achieved some part of our agenda.
Luis: I think it’s crucial for the student body to really understand how powerful the SA organization is and that its potential strength must be maximized. We are a vehicle, so if people don’t understand how much can be funneled through, it won’t maximize our output. For us it’s important to go out and target people to initiate dialogue. This is students’ organization and we are merely people who will do our best to be conduits and to make sure that we understand issues meaningful to the student body. We also want the incoming class to know right away what the SA does.
The Harbus: Now that you have won the election, how do you guys feel about winning and the time commitment that you will have to dedicate toward the office?
Sid: Psyched, excited, honored, humbled and very passionate about the upcoming year.
Luis: I think the word honored encapsulates it – in terms of the way I view the organization and think about having the student body empower us with that charge. We provided what we thought was the framework and now the students have asked us to carry that forth. So in terms of the time commitment that you asked about, it will be a factor of how much needs to get done. It’s going to be the time necessary to carry out as many of the steps that we plan for, and as many of the steps required for what comes up.
Sid: One additional thing that I’m very excited about is that we had a great election. I think there was great visibility for the SA because there we so many people willing to step up to the plate and enlist. I think we have the opportunity now to channel that effort and commitment to help make the SA’s role and effectiveness more impactful. We’ve been lucky that we have had so many people willing to help us and support us while we try to make these positive changes.
The Harbus: Personally, what motivated you two to run for SA president?
Luis: I think it goes back to what I said in my speech when I came to HBS intending to deal with a lot of self exploration, learning more about myself, and meeting new people. Essentially when you think about the way our learning process works, everyone probably signed on for a construct that is based on everyone teaching each other. Through my experience as a section president, I’ve learned to appreciate how much value there is to the community of 90 people coming together and their ability to resolve issues and trying to ensure that everyone is on board and that no minority is left out. Also for me, I saw a lot of things that could be improved upon in terms of careers, academics, etc. I figured that for me to be an effective conduit of change I needed to be involved in organization that could perform that role.
Sid: I think for me it was a couple of things. First as a senator last year I was involved with the senate and got a first hand look at the effort that no one really gets to know about. All of the senators are doing great work and going out of their way because they want to give back to the community and back to the school. So I thought I saw the power of the institution in trying to be able to make a difference. The second thing was encouragement of all of my classmates and Section E people and all of my friends who thought that given my involvement as a senator and strong feelings about things around the school, I should get involved. Third, I’ve personally always wanted to do stuff and make things better and help people do what they want to do. Also, working with Luis was going to be a lot of fun and we make a great equation. I’m really excited about it.
The Harbus: How do you think students can stay involved with the changes that you will make?
Sid: I think that students can stay involved on two levels. We have some institutionalized stuff planned – we already have the SA website and a newsbyte on the my.hbs website reporting what the senate is up to every week. Also, Luis and I are planning to visit every section at least once a semester for an open Q & A so people can talk to us and raise their issues. Beyond that, we want to make sure that people know that they can approach us by e-mail or that they can call us any time to speak to us and to convey their issues knowing that we will try our level best to try to solve them.
Luis: We ran on the platform that we are going to try to enhance communication with the student body and we are really committed to that. People should understand that any criticism and issue can be touched upon and it doesn’t matter what the scope is. We want to gather their information because that is the only way this organization can be responsive to the students’ needs.