May 8, 2012

A catalyst for change

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Sumit Sharma founded Students for Change


ith two years of experience with the former student governing political party United People, Sumit Sharma successfully founded Students For Change and led the new party to victory.

Sumit Sharma led Students for Change to victory in the 2012 student government elections, ending United People’s 40 year run. Photo courtesy Billy Gotit.

Credited as founder and campaign manager of SFC, Sharma gathered with a group of friends including former members of United People, including Karamvir Singh, student government president-elect and Brian Edelman, student government vice president-elect, to form a new political party on March 7 in Rosenthal Library’s first floor.

Sharma, 22, was directly affiliated with United People as a student senator for the 2010-11 academic year, and the party’s campaign staff as a campaign manager for the spring 2011 election that elected Sixto Arias to student government presidency.

Ignoring his affiliation with UP and the existence of Democratic Student Alliance, a now defunct party with a history of five consecutive losses against UP, Sharma recalled the idea of starting an entirely new party, in the spring 2012 student government elections in a conversation with Singh.

“We felt that we had a group of students that could represent the college better overall than the candidates that UP had selected to represent the college with,” Sharma said.

“Sumit was disgruntled with UP the same way as all other people who showed their frustration toward them. The way UP was structured,” Singh said.

Also contributing to the discussion of forming a new party was one of Sharma’s close friends, Billy Gotit, 24, who said that in his multiple visits to Queens College’s Student Association in Student Union 319, he too felt as an outsider, and that the energy had not been completely positive.

“It seemed as if people were being guided on what to do in terms of what they were and were not allowed to do,” Gotit said.“I heard from [members of UP] that Steve [Klienberg, a UP adviser] would sit in on meetings and times they [UP members] didn’t want to speak their mind because he was there.”

Daniel Muchnick, former United People president, claims that SFC’s victory was not a result of “blind spite,” attributing the victory partially to the campaigning experience of Sharma and other SFC leadership.

“In fact with SFC’s leadership originating in UP, I know many SFC leaders closely, Sumit in particular, and [I] connect with the ardor behind what drove them to put together their new party and incidently succeed at a task which so many others before them have merely attempted, ” Muchnick said, having been two years removed from his tenure.

Muchnick also described Sharma as friendly, ambitious and “a warm personality, cunning yet very down to earth.”

“He was one of the most outgoing and professional club presidents I encountered,” Muchnick said, citing Sharma’s presidency of South Asian Student Association.

While Sharma described reactions to SFC’s victory including of UP members, including Klienberg’s as of “surprise” but “very professional” reaction to the victory came as a shock, according to his friends and party members. While the election results were announced at 2 p.m. on May 1, Sharma’s reaction had came approximately four hours later as a Facebook announcement.

“What to say! Karmavir Singh, Brian Edelman, Jon Khalily, Marium Sulaiman, Asmaa Anwar, Kalsoom Aarshad, Matthew Louie, Billy Gotit, and everyone else! We did it! SFC. SFC. SFC,” Sharma wrote. “This was no joke or game. We said we’d win and we did. Time to shake things up a bit. I’m so happy for my crew countless days and hours campaigning, staying out late, not going home, hustling for every vote, was well worth it. SFC 2012-2013.”

A double major in accounting and economics, Sharma will graduate in spring 2012, will have no involvement with the student government and no part in determining the positions the newly elected members will occupy in Student Association

“I was campaign manager and my job was to get my slate elected,” Sharma said.

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