An Interview with Alex Bores
Posted by Laurel Conrad on November 27, 2012
Freshman year, I was first introduced to Alex Bores through his Student Trustee campaign rap video. It featured Bores in different spots on campus, both dancing and passionately conversing with students. He went on to win the position, and since then has had a major presence on campus. This morning, Bores sat down to talk with me in the Ivy Room about his experience as a student leader (or, as he would rather be called, “someone who is involved in the student’s governance process”.) In his personable interview, Bores reveals how he became so involved on campus. He also shares advice for future Student Trustees as well as other ambitious freshmen. Finally, he discusses his plans for the future after graduation this year.
To my disappointment, no rapping or dance moves were involved.
Review: Let’s start off with your background. Among other things, you are involved in Cornell Forensics, which is ranked #1 in the world. You have served as the elected Student Trustee. What is your story on how you got involved on campus?
Bores: When I came to Cornell, I had very different ideas of what I wanted to get involved with than what I ended up getting involved with. I had done high school debate, and thought I was sick of it. I’d had enough of people yelling at each other- but found this team and really fell in love with it. To synthesize the story, I went to Club Fest my freshman year and, I think like most freshman, fell in love with fifty different clubs and signed up for way too many list-serves, some of which I am still trying to get off of. After that, I tried everything, and tried to whittle it down to the things I really wanted to do and happened to find this, perhaps diverse group, of activities that I really liked.
Review: Do you feel like you have made an impact on campus?
Bores: I hope so. What goes on in the Board of Trustees is somewhat behind closed doors. Which is both beneficial – in that you can discuss how you honestly feel – but also obviously has its downsides. One of the things that I am most proud of on the board is that I pushed to have more student involvement; to try to open it up a little. As a result of those efforts, the student assembly president and graduate and professional student assembly president will be able to attend all of the student life committees, academic affair meetings, and full board meetings and see all of the confidential information- the same kind of latitude that’s allowed for the deans of the colleges. Additionally, we are now going to have twice-a-year meetings between fifteen students and the trustee leadership and more communication between the two groups.
Review: Who are the fifteen students?
Bores: Those are chosen as they come by the Student Trustees. We’ve had three of those meetings so far, and Darrick and I are trying to choose different students. 15 students for 3 different meetings is a total of 45 possible spots, and I think we’ve only had 3 repeats among those. So we try to spread it out as much as possible to try to get as much opinion as we can.
Review: Would you consider yourself a student leader?
Bores: To be honest, I kind of hate the term “student leader” because it implies for some reason that student government is the way to lead, when there are so many incredibly cool things that people are doing on campus- leading in engineering fields or in theater, or doing things that I have absolutely no talent for. So, I would say that I am “someone who is involved in the student’s governance process.” I would like that term better than student leader.
Review: The next Student Trustee election is approaching. What characteristics should the student body look for when voting for a candidate?
Bores: I’ve actually been thinking about what advice I could give to the next group. I think that, if you want to talk basic characteristics, you need to be confident. You need to be able to talk to people who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and be able to say “no, actually this is how we should do things.” But you also need to be respectful. If you come in there, and it’s your way or the highway, you are not going to win anyone over. It’s not a position that has executive power and you need to work with others. The Student Trustee is not a pure advocate. You need to be able to always look at the good of the institution as a whole. You need to be able to balance these interests and be able to have some of your friends perhaps question what you’re doing, because you’re not always advocating for them.
Review: Were you ever criticized by your friends, as you mentioned?
Bores: Perhaps. I try to say my position on everything as openly as possible. The example I tend to bring up is that I voted for the tuition increase in January. Largely, because Cornell has a policy of holding your costs if you’re on financial aid, so if the tuition goes up and you’re on financial aid, the financial aid covers that entire difference. So it doesn’t hurt the students that really need it, but at the same time, it allows us to spend on faculty and on international programs and on things that students really benefit from. On the flip side, when there were proposals to cut financial aid, I raised a lot of hell. I thought that was a mistake. You also need to realize that you are one of two students on the board and you bring a unique perspective and that it is your job to make sure that that voice is heard on the board level.
Review: What advice would you give to ambitious freshmen who would like to become leaders on campus?
Bores: Definitely go to club fest. You will discover things that you had no idea that you would be interested in. And try a bunch of different things. If you are in your first few months here, try everything, because you don’t know what you will end up liking, and college is a great time to discover that. And if you’ve been here and are settled in, I’d say, once you’ve found a diversity of things that you love, try to focus on a few and really make an impact. If you do that, I think that you will truly enjoy your time at Cornell.
Review: Thank you for the interview. Finally, what are your goals for after graduation, and where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Bores: I’ll be working in New York City next year. I’m hoping to go to Law School at some point soon. And ten years out – we’ll see. Hopefully I’m married and have a few tikes running around. On the professional side, I’m really interested in international trade regulation, labor regulation, and international labor agreements, so hopefully I’m doing something in that field.