HKS faculty, students reflect on Syria

first_imgWith the battle for Aleppo now under way in Syria’s largest city, the world is watching to see what happens next in the latest violent political standoff in the Middle East.  The nation’s military leaders are promising to defeat rebel soldiers, just as they did in Damascus. But rebel leaders and freedom activists are pledging to prepare for a “long, hard guerilla war” to drive President Bashar al-Assad from power.Nicholas Burns, Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), writes in The Boston Globe that “the revolution may have reached a turning point…following [last] Wednesday’s bombing and defections of two senior leaders as well as Russia’s ban on future arms sales. Assad is now weak and isolated.”  And he states that “the United States will now be pressured to adopt a much more aggressive effort to push Assad from power and stop his heartless slaughter of innocent civilians.”More than 100,000 civilians have reportedly fled the country, and those who remain are suffering, according to a Syrian student at the Kennedy School who has remained in close communication with many friends and relatives back home.“My in-laws fled to Lebanon last week. My uncle’s house was bombed, and luckily no one was there. A cousin of mine lost his 15-year-old son who was killed during a demonstration coming out of school few months back. Several relatives fled their homes with their families and have been moving around aiming for safer grounds,” he says. “Of course this is nothing compared to the suffering of the thousands who have seen their homes demolished and their loved ones killed before their own eyes. Massacres, atrocities and stories of rape and torture are beyond one’s ability to describe.” Read Full Storylast_img read more

Friendship & Leadership

first_imgPerhaps it’s fitting that Undergraduate Student Government President Mikey Geragos and Vice President Vinnie Prasad went to Disneyland on Friday as one of the last events of their term, which ends today. They are, after all, not just co-leaders but close friends.When reflecting on the past year, Geragos said he still remembers when he first thought about asking Prasad to run with him.“I texted Vinnie the exact text someone going on an awkward blind date would text,” Geragos said with a laugh. “It was like, ‘Hey, want to meet for coffee?’”Of course, Prasad said he had figured out Geragos’s intentions. Though Geragos had heard rumors about Prasad running for president himself, Prasad said he knew immediately what his answer would be.“There were people who were really pushing me to run for president, but it just didn’t feel right for me,” Prasad said. “When Mikey approached me, that felt right.”The day after the two made the decision, they were up and running their campaign and working on their plans.Both Geragos and Prasad were members of USG all four years of their college careers and see it as the defining factor of their college experience.Both praise the other for unique attributes that carry over into the duties of their jobs. Geragos spoke at length about Prasad’s holistic perspective when analyzing issues that affect the USG’s operations, while Prasad said Geragos is excellent at developing strong relationships with administrators.“I love how we work together,” Geragos said.Geragos said one major accomplishment is their work on the “Village at USC” plan. He believes the plan’s progress shows the work students can accomplish when they truly care about issues on campus. Prasad agreed that working with city officials was a rewarding experience.“It was fun going down to City Hall and getting to speak on behalf of the students and their views,” Prasad said.Moreover, Geragos and Prasad made it their goal to increase USG’s social media and Internet presence. They launched a new website that hosts all the information about on-campus initiatives and established a weekly newsletter, along with increasing USG’s likes on Facebook and followers on Twitter.Nick Kosturos, the director of leadership funding for USG, said Geragos and Prasad’s leadership allowed USG to give more funding to student organizations than ever before. More than $250,000 were distributed to various student organizations from funding board allocations.“The funding we were able to give out and better distribute because of their leadership went to student organizations for philanthropy, leadership, professional, academic and discretionary purposes,” Kosturos said.Geragos and Prasad also restructured the organization to better detail each department’s duties. Kosturos said they changed the definitions of each committee and created a more even workload.“[Geragos and Prasad] led a huge restructuring effort to make USG more efficient and better able to serve the student body — this much-needed reorganization will be going into effect next year,” Kosturos said.In the past year, USG has streamlined the structure of its advocacy groups. In addition, Geragos and Prasad advocated for the building of The Village at USC,  a renovation project which was approved by the city in December. Geragos and Prasad said while they will not necessarily experience the benefits of the Village they understand that planning for the future is an important part of their job.“There are moments when you’re focusing so much time on stuff that is not going to effect you,” Geragos said.They both look forward to coming back and seeing how their work has grown. Prasad said they are so used to “putting out fires every week” that it would be fun to come back in the office with less stress.“The hardest part of the student government is that you have only a year in charge of organization,” Geragos said.  “No one cares as much as you do about the organization or the success that you have, so at times it can be frustrating doing the work you feel has sometimes gone unnoticed.”Overall, Geragos would describe the whole, sometimes hectic, term as a “learning experience.”“We were constantly learning and constantly becoming more self-aware and more understanding of who we are truly as people, and more specifically as leaders,” Geragos said.Prasad also said he learned more about decision-making, taking others’ ideas into account and communication.“Even if something is a brilliant idea in my head, it doesn’t mean that it is a brilliant idea for other people,” Prasad said.After graduation, Geragos is planning on applying to law school, while Prasad is going to work as an economic consultant and thinks that he will eventually go back to school to get a master’s in business administration.But, until then, the two can take a sigh of relief and many more joint Disneyland trips as their yearlong term of wearing suits and improving the organization draws to a close.last_img read more

Fixture headache is of GAA’s own making

first_imgDepending on how results go the Down game may not be needed.Tipp FM analyst Conor O’Dwyer says the fixture congestion is of the GAA’s own making. Tipperary’s National Football League game against Down may not be played.The match was called off on Sunday at the pitch in Newry was unplayable.The GAA has decided that the scheduled 7th round games will go ahead next weekend so Tipp will travel to Kingspan Breffni Park to take on Cavan on Sunday.last_img