Bridge Across Campus

ILR Senior Leading Cornell Student Assembly
Friday, August 14, 2015

Juliana Batista ’16 describes herself as a “big picture person,” and that’s a good thing.

She leads Cornell’s Student Assembly, which oversees approximately $7 million annually in student activity fees distributed to about 1,000 organizations.

The student government also has legislative authority over policies for the Office of the Dean of Students and the Department of Campus Life.

Elected president last spring, the senior expects to be mediating plenty of conflict in 2015-2016, a “byline” year; appropriations for student organizations are set every other year.

“A lot of the ILR skills are incredibly helpful,” said Batista, citing organizational behavior classes.

Mediation skills learned through the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, she said, have helped her navigate heated student debates.

“As the unbiased chair presiding over meetings, being able to handle the widely varying opinions is imperative to constructive dialogue.”

ILR has disproportionately high representation in the 27-member assembly. Assembly members from the school include Ben Bacharach ’18, Maha Ghandour ’17, Gabe Kaufman ’17 and Diane Lee ’17. Learn more about them at http://assembly.cornell.edu/SA/Members.

As assembly executive vice president for three years, Batista has influenced campus life for tens of thousands of students.

She drafted, implemented or debated resolutions regarding divestment, transportation policy, gender-neutral housing, sexual assault hearings, restorative justice, campus code and protests, and financial transparency.

Batista, whose Deutsche Bank internship helped hone her financial acumen, was also part of remolding a $1.2 million endowment to legislate a sustainable Student Assembly Infrastructure Fund and chaired Cornell’s International AIDS Awareness Week.

This year, she expects the assembly to tackle issues including increased autonomy, course evaluations, global studies, financial transparency on how tuition dollars are spent by the university and late-night transportation for students.

“This campus boils down to making meaningful relationships. And people understand that my goal as president is to bridge people across campus to make those meaningful relationships.”