Senator term review: Michael Gofman

A year of accomplishments, controversy, pursuits for the executive office

Michael Gofman, a second-year economics and political science double major, has been serving his term as an ASUCD senator since he was elected in Winter Elections of 2017. Gofman ran on the platforms of environmental sustainability, affordability for low-income students and student-teacher relations.

ASUCD President Josh Dalavai and Vice President Adilla Jamaludin described Gofman as composed, organized and proactive during his campaign for Senate.

“I wanted to get more involved in our student government,” Gofman said. “I figured joining the ASUCD Senate would be the best way in order to create some of the changes that I wanted to see on campus and tackle some of the problems that I had heard from other students going on with campus.”

In office, Gofman has served as the adopted senator for the Campus Center for Environment, the Bike Barn, the CoHo, Entertainment Council, KDVS, Refrigerator Services and Unitrans.

He regularly worked with Senator Marcos Rodrigues, former Senator Julie Jung, interim Senator Shaniah Branson and Internal Affairs Commission Chair Jacob Ganz — he referenced these individuals’ “unit centric” outlooks and like-minded goals.

Gofman became involved with controversial ASUCD legislation over whether or not to mandate the presence of the American flag at Senate meetings. National media outlets including Fox News weighed in. Gofman voiced his disapproval at removing the mandate to keep the flag present.

“I think [the flag legislation] put him in a very controversial position for a period of time,” Jamaludin said. “I have been impressed at the way that he has made very good relationships, for the most part, […] with the unit directors and has done his duties.”

In the summer of 2017, the Campus Center for the Environment removed Gofman as its adopted senator over disagreements regarding the senator’s decision to abstain from voting on a resolution concerning the student organization Environmental Justice for Underrepresented Communities.

Gofman said the separation between himself and the CCE prevented his ability to move forward with projects he had in mind for sustainability on campus. Efforts to synthesize environmental groups into a coalition toward progress in environmental sustainability did not come to fruition.

“A lot of the work that I was hoping to do with them, they did not want to do, and they didn’t want to do it with me,” Gofman said. “If I could do things over again, I would definitely have tried to get closer with them earlier on so that even if we may have had political disagreements it wouldn’t have gotten in the way of the work that I was hoping we’d be able to do together.”

Gofman’s accomplishments are tangible within the CoHo, after legislation was passed to get more microwaves available to students. He spoke on the finalization of a project that would create a space for students to “bring their food from home and cook it in that 20-minute period in between classes instead of having to wait for that half hour line that starts across the CoHo.”

His attention to affordability led to the creation of the Career Closet. In association with Alumni Relations, the closet provides professional attire to students who cannot afford clothes for a job or an interview.

Unit directors who have continued to work with him described Gofman as responsive and attentive to their respective units. Liz O’Neill, the Entertainment Council unit director, said Gofman maintained a communicative relationship with the unit and CoHo Unit Director Darin Schluep said he feels the needs of his unit are being supported.

“It’s helpful to know that every Thursday we have someone at the Senate table who is representing our interests and would let us know if we came up as a topic of discussion,” Schluep said. “This doesn’t happen very often, but it’s nice to know that you have that support.”

Jamaludin also discussed Gofman’s strong connection to his voter base and to “the communities he comes from.”

“A lot of senators will cultivate that relationship when they’re running and sort of drop off the face of the planet once they’re in the Senate,” Jamaludin said. “[They] tend to forget that, yes, you’re in this ivory tower, but you should try and democratize the ivory tower and make it more accessible to other people. I think Michael has done a good job of doing that.”

Gofman acknowledges disagreements among voices on the table and welcomes discussion over disagreement.

“I get into disagreements over bills, issues with senators and commission chairs all the time,” Gofman said. “I think we’re able to move past it and generally agree to disagree. But we manage to put those things aside so that on the issues we both want to work on together we can actually work on instead of fighting over the little things.”

Gofman is currently pursuing the position of ASUCD president. He said he advises the Senate to focus on financial management and says the association is “on the brink of falling apart.” Gofman mentionioned the inconsistencies regarding election cycles and waning public interest, but places the most stress on irresponsible spending by ASUCD.

“The cost of operating the [association] has skyrocketed but our income has not,” Gofman said. “I’m really worried as less and less experienced senators and executives coming in, that some of those issues are going to go to the wayside while they focus on important current event issues, not realizing that the association is falling apart through their wasteful spending.”

Gofman leaves Senate with pride in his work and takes his relationships with ASUCD members into the 2018 Winter Elections.

“I’ve stayed true to myself and I’ve stayed true to the people that voted for me and hopefully that helps me out this Winter Quarter,” Gofman said. “But even if it doesn’t, I can leave knowing I never betrayed my principles.”

 

Written by: Elizabeth Mercado — campus@theaggie.org

Leave a Comment

*