A special election is being held from Nov. 6 to Nov. 8 to replace the current undergraduate student trustee on the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees.
Current trustee Christine Savino is graduating this fall, so the next undergraduate student trustee will serve for the Spring 2019 semester, according to the Vote @ UConn website. Another election will be held in Spring 2019 to elect an undergraduate who will serve from Fall 2019 to Spring 2021.
The two candidates running for undergraduate student trustee are Dylan Nenadal and Nandan Tumu. Students can vote for them by going to vote.uconn.edu on the dates of the election.
Dylan Nenadal is a fifth-semester management major. He is a member of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) senate and represents the student body on the University Senate Budget Committee and the Provost’s Library Advisory Committee.
Nenadal said he is running for undergraduate student trustee because he believes the position is the most important student position at UConn.
“I think that the position hasn’t been used to its full capability in the past, and I believe that it’s going to change with this special election, regardless of who wins,” Nenadal said.
If elected, Nenadal’s first pursuit would be to increase student representation on the board of trustees, he said.
“Of the 21 board members, there’s only two students, and I think 16 of them are either appointed by the governor or state officials themselves, so a lot of them aren’t even part of the university,” Nenadal said. “I think students should be involved with it because there’s only so much one trustee can do.”
Nenadal said he would also pursue adding student representation on the board’s committees and increase communication between the Storrs campus and regional campuses.
“One of the main things I’m running for is better unity at the university, in terms of the branch campuses feeling like they’re a part of the university, and the Storrs students being aware of what’s going on at the regionals and what the regionals are for,” Nenadal said.
Nenadal said he has experience making changes that are beneficial to the student body and that represent students’ needs and interests.
“For example, I’m the one who started the tampon time initiative a couple years ago, which now has dispensers in the union, library and student rec center,” Nenadal said. “In addition to that, I’ve represented the student body on the budget committee by way of investigating the athletics department and its use of university funds.”
Nenadal said he wants students to know that if elected, he would ensure that they are aware of his work as trustee by setting up a student advisory committee where students can come to learn about what the board is doing, propose policies and ask questions.
“I’ve talked to the student government leaders at all the regional campuses and they’re on board with joining me and creating a regional campus advisory committee, where I’ll go to the regional campuses and have the exact same experience in which they can meet with their trustee and feel like they’re part of the university process,” Nenadal said.
Nandan Tumu is a fifth-semester computer science major minoring in philosophy. He is USG’s chief justice and previously served as its speaker of the senate. He is also the UConn Consulting Group’s project manager.
Tumu said he is running for undergraduate student trustee because he believes he is the most qualified student for the job.
“I think that my experience in the roles that I’ve held makes me a really good fit for this position,” Tumu said. “I think that the problem-solving and business development skills I’ve learned through the UConn consulting group, combined with the experience and access I’ve had to the views of the student body through USG, through serving as the speaker and now through serving as the chief justice, provide me (with) the basic knowledge.”
Tumu said the nature of his roles in USG has honed his temperament such that it is conducive to the temperament of an undergraduate student trustee, noting that he has worked with the cultural centers to promote diversity within USG, despite USG’s rocky relationship with them.
“Through the course of an hour or an hour and 30 minutes, we were able to go from starting on two very different sides of the coin to narrowing down on what we agreed on, which is the fact that we think we shouldn’t have to have special seats, special programs to promote diversity within USG,” Tumu said. “The most ideal case is that people of color and minorities and underprivileged groups will just run for the positions available in USG, and the goal is that the student body is going to understand that and elect a group of people that represents all students.”
Tumu said he believes much of UConn’s success can be credited to the board of trustees and that he wants to help continue that growth.
“You see an improvement in the undergraduate education offered here, you see an improvement in the faculty we attract, and you see an improvement in the quality and quantity of research,” Tumu said. “I think those are strong indicators that we’re moving in the right direction and I think that’s largely due to the board of trustees.”
However, Tumu said he thinks the board sometimes does not listen to the students’ voices, which is something that he would like to change if elected.
“I think there are cases where the board of trustees could do a better job in terms of taking in the student opinion and student voice and student desire, and making sure the decisions they make are student-focused and student-centered, and that’s where I think I can help,” Tumu said. “Through my experience in USG and my involvement on campus, I think that I’m the best candidate to not just hear from the candidates, but also take that feedback, translate it into things that the board is going to act on, and convince them to act on that.”
Tumu has been a UConn student for two years and has had more personal growth in those two years than in any other period of his life, he said.
“I wanted to make sure that the opportunities that have been made available to me continue to be made available to all students at UConn, not just today, not just tomorrow, but five, ten years down the line. I’d like to see UConn, within the next decade, be a top five or top ten public institution, and I think that’s what you look for in a trustee.
Gabriella DeBenedictis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.