Happy election day! Per Article VII of the ASCIT Bylaws, voting for all ASCIT positions is now open at https://donut.caltech.edu/1/surveys/hltBeY0LQvpebayRLND2HXTAwKApwP6fCcRJDKKixYR2XlPA0K3ywRoKhABvI9Ia/take (you must be logged into Donut to see the form). All candidates’ statements can be found at https://tech.caltech.edu/2024/04/26/ascit-spring-candidate-statements/.

Note on the election from Kaushal Shyamsundar, Review Committee Chair:

You need to be registered as “ug” on donut (which you are if you are receiving this email), but if someone did not get this email and thinks they are qualified to vote, kindly contact me.

Any election protests can be submitted before 11:59 pm on Tuesday to me at this link: https://forms.gle/j6jborqRwVe4emeo7 or directly to the ASCIT President.

For first-time voters, we use a system of ranked pairs as described in Section 6 of Article VII. You rank all candidates plus NO in your order of preference. You are also allowed to “write-in” the name(s) of anyone qualified to run who is not on the ballot and then rank them as you do with other candidates. If you do not rank any/all candidates for a post, those specific tickets are counted as ranked last.

As always, contact me or your Hovse RevComm Rep if you have concerns or questions.

ASCIT President is the only contested position this time around, so the Tech reached out to the two candidates, Sophie Elam and Thierno Diallo, to learn more about their campaign platforms and plans if elected.

Photo of Sophie Elam Photo of Thierno Diallo

Student-Faculty Conference

What are your plans/ideas for working with the ARC Chair to run the bi-annual Student-Faculty Conference this year? Any particular goals, or things you want to do differently?

Sophie Elam:

Yes! I was incredibly fortunate and honored to have the opportunity to participate in SFC on a variety of levels in 2023. In addition to serving as a Co-Chair for the GPS committee, I was also beginning to transition onto ASCIT as IHC Chair and observe as Twombly and Alex organized the event. During this SFC, our special topics were able to inspire change in the core including instating CS 1 as a graduation requirement in replacement of one HSS course (which will be implemented beginning with the class of 2028). Within the GPS division, we were able to initiate a new track within the ESE option which was put into effect almost immediately, and we began other division-culture related initiatives such as starting the GPS Buddy Program and bringing back Paul Asimow’s Frosh Walk during orientation.

In addition to this, since my freshman year when I was the Fleming ARC Rep, I’ve been considering ideas for potential SFC special topics. So far, I’d love to pursue issues regarding a student bill of rights and standardizing TA training and expectations across classes and divisions. Further, I’ve had the privilege of working with Jeb Brysacz (unopposed ARC Chair Candidate) on the ARC in previous years, and am looking forward to collaborating with him to make sure SFC runs smoothly and is allocated with the resources and attention to have genuine significance.

Lastly, I want to mention that one of my goals as ASCIT President would be to pursue reviving the non-academic analogue of SFC — SEC, or Student Experience Conference. This conference, which would be held in alternating years from SFC (even numbered years), would seek to achieve similar goals as SFC, but in a non academic capacity. So rather than work within academic divisions, we would form committees to work with specific offices and we would still hold a special topics discussion. The overall vision for SEC would be to enhance a platform for students to have direct, civil collaboration opportunities with administration to better teh Caltech undergraduate Experience.

Thierno Diallo:

I plan to work with the current ARC chair to make this a more involved process school-wide as I do not feel this event has enough participation from the student body, the ones with the actual concerns. Through my role as TA and Ombud, I have gained some ground experience from students on how to better support their academic endeavors. My three goals all gathered from student feedback are increasing the effectiveness of the ARC, helping faculty better incorporate TQFR feedback, and increasing accessibility to the houses:

  • One major complaint students had was regarding the effectiveness of the ARC committee as many professors have been “ARCed,” however, it did not change much or anything for the students. Therefore, I hope to discuss at this conference how the ARC can be more effective in handling these cases.

  • Another topic I would like to bring up at this conference is how we can better incorporate and enforce TQFR feedback, which in most cases is ignored without consequence, as some professors will receive the same suggestions for improvement each year. Therefore, I want to utilize the TQFR feedback to suggest additional training for certain faculty on how to better effectively communicate with students. There is no doubt that Caltech is home to the greatest minds in the world, and helping these minds better pass on their immense knowledge will be key to Caltech’s future. With so many amazing and intellectual professors on campus, students should not be skipping lectures and the opportunity to further their growth because of teaching quality.

  • Lastly, outside of academic goals, the topic of accessibility was brought up to me in the discussion, and I think it would make for a great focal point at this conference. As a mole in Blacker, I always dreaded walking up and down the “Hell” stairs every day. This feeling intensified when I strained my hamstring that year and could barely walk. However, as Blacker had no elevators or ramps, I had to walk up and down those hellish stairs every day. Therefore, I want to make my house and others more accessible to everyone, so we can all fully immerse in and enjoy the houses.


What are your plans to maintain/utilize the new ASCIT Fund? Right now there is far more demand for club funding than ASCIT can provide. How will you address this situation?

Sophie Elam:

To begin with, I am extremely excited about the fact that this year’s ASCIT has been able to establish the ASCIT Fund. My priority is to continue to build and promote this fund while it is in its early years. I have intentions of advertising the fund to alums and potential donors to bolster support for undergraduate activities. While this ASCIT BoD was still able to draw from some of the excess COVID funds, future BoDs will not have this luxury, so I feel it will be important to set up future generations of Caltech Undergrads by expanding the ASCIT Fund.

I have talked with ASCIT Advisor Tom Mannion about potential fundraising opportunities in the year ahead, and am looking forward to pursuing them. I also am thrilled to have the chance to work with incumbent Treasurer, Jonathan Booker, who has been working to put together alumni fundraising events and who has done a remarkable job of managing the ASCIT budget and reducing costs to students for events all year.

This brings me to your question regarding club funding. I have complete faith in Ava Barbano (unopposed Director of Operations) and Jonathan Booker to see to the details of club funding, because this is their area of expertise. However, this is not to say I will be detached, as I recognize this is a very important issue, and seeing as it falls under ASCIT purview, it is inherently a presidential responsibility. Thus, one of my first priorities with regards to club funding is working with GSC (Grad Student Council) to see where we overlap and how we can best support one another in our joint efforts to fund Caltech’s clubs. I am looking forward to this opportunity because my prior interactions with GSC members have been positive and encouraging. I also intend to help streamline club documentation processes to ensure that all clubs are appropriately accounted for so that they may receive funding efficiently. Lastly, I recognize that ASCIT does not have infinite resources to match the demand for club funding. Hence, I plan on collaborating with individual clubs to host unique fundraisers for their student group so that ASCIT can support every group in obtaining the financial means they require to continue enhancing campus culture.

Thierno Diallo:

I wish to utilize the new ASCIT funding secured from the ASCIT fund to better support our clubs and organizations on campus. Furthermore, on top of continuing to run our regular events, I hope to use this fund to support more non-athletic inter-house events such as game and trivia nights between houses to allow athletes who are in season and those who are not sports enthusiasts an opportunity to partake in inter-house culture. An issue many students have with ASCIT formal is that tickets are expensive therefore, I hope to use this funding to potentially subsidize formal tickets to allow everyone a chance to attend.

To address the demand for club funding, I plan to educate clubs on how to secure funding outside of ASCIT as the Caltech Black Student Union learned to do. ASCIT has over 30 clubs under them and it can be hard to financially support them all, therefore, teaching clubs about con-sponsorships with other organizations, grants, and other funding sources they can apply to will help them become more financially independent so that any additional funding ASCIT provides will be enough. However, to ensure we have the funding to provide, I plan on applying for corporate and government grants tailored to supporting student organizations, and host more fund-raisers with students, alumni, and faculty.


How will you make ASCIT Formal tickets more accessible next year?

Sophie Elam:

The wonderful thing about experience is that you learn from it. Specifically, I transitioned onto ASCIT as they were in the final stages of planning Formal in 2023, and I’ve been on ASCIT and involved in the entirety of the planning of 2024 Formal. From these, I’ve recognized that early planning is cost efficient planning. By beginning the process early, we have the time to negotiate and consider services and offers from various venues, vendors, DJs, etc., and pick the one that offers the best compromise between quality and budget. In fact, I have already been having discussions with Jonathan Booker and Ashlyn Royce (unopposed Social Director) regarding which venues will be worth considering in light of budget and how we can begin planning.

Lastly, I intend on working with other offices and hosting fundraisers to subsidize ticket prices further. If at all possible, I also intend on considering strategies to increase the capacity of Formal 2025 to match the growing demand for Formal tickets (maybe even look into supporting students who want to invite plus-ones from off-campus if there is adequate student interest in doing so).

Thierno Diallo:

I will make tickets more accessible by finding cheaper venues as the ASCIT formal is more about students bonding and enjoying each other’s company than it is about the venue. I also plan on using our new funding as previously discussed to provide subsidized tickets for students who need the extra support amongst other initiatives.


What are your plans for allocating funds to houses, versus campus-wide events? What are your thoughts on bringing back the Executive Social Committee?

Sophie Elam:

I believe that there is a “Goldilocks” balance between House and Campus-wide events and thus, their respective funding. I plan on continuing to support the Houses with funding for interhouses and cross-house events as well as ditch-day activities. Outside of this, I will look to grants and external funds to create a collective budget that the IHC can use between houses for equipment or additional needs. Based on our current and previous budget, this will still leave a budget for campus-wide events. While I have many ideas for potential events, this will fall under our Social Team’s discretion. However, I will encourage that we offer the entire student body options to choose from and then pursue the event that shows the most student interest.

As for the Executive Social Committee, I think that ASCIT and the IHC have been able to work together extremely well over the past year, and we can rely on the House presidents to communicate the interests of their members to ASCIT. Further, I trust our Social Team to be in touch with campus and have a sense of both unaffiliated and affiliated student’s interests (I will mention that in communications with current ASCIT members we have considered establishing an “Unaffiliated Consultant” who we can go to as an advocate for the desires of unaffiliated students). However, if there is any sense that the student body would like to see the reinstatement of the Executive Social Committee, I will see to gauging this interest and if appropriate, work to see it revitalized.

Thierno Diallo:

I plan to continue supporting the houses with inter-house events including but not limited to their yearly campus-wide party, athletic and non-athletic events across houses, and upholding school traditions such as ditch day and rotation.

With regards to bringing back the Executive Social Committee, I think that ASCIT and the IHC alongside house officers have done an excellent job thus far, however, this is a matter I would ask the student body about for their input and further discuss with them.


Relations with Faculty are currently shaky, at best. How do you plan to work to rebuild trust?

Sophie Elam:

As I mentioned in my candidate statement, one of my biggest sources of pride has been my ability to maintain positive relationships with administrators and faculty throughout my term as ASCIT VP of Non Academic Affairs. I strive to maintain diplomacy, kindness and professionality in all of my interactions, and because of this, I believe that I have established a mutual respect with many of the administrators I’ve worked with. This has allowed me to establish pathways for honest, transparent communication with faculty and admin to achieve productive discourse for the sake of progress.

Thus, my primary method for rebuilding trust lies in the foundations I’ve built to allow for open, direct conversation.

I also intend on being especially supportive of the BoC and our Advocacy Committee in their efforts to work with the Faculty Board and TIX/CCID/CASS offices, respectively. I will encourage representatives to serve as liaisons for students, faculty and administrators. Further, I will promote student and faculty/administration dialogue by inviting others into conversations and meetings to normalize the presence of student voices in the important conversations on campus.

Thierno Diallo:

Rebuilding relationships with faculty is important to maintain both strong academic and personal experiences at Caltech. I plan to create more formal and informal events where students and faculty can gather to build both personal and professional relationships. These events include promoting more department mixers, holding a student panel for faculty, and better supporting the Advocacy Committee. I think that the best way to rebuild this bond is through direct communication between students and faculty rather than through intermediaries therefore my focus will be on creating more environments where students and faculty can have these interactions.


One of the hardest parts of being on ASCIT is the manual labor of putting up and breaking down events! On a scale from 1 to PUMPED, how hyped are you for this?

Sophie Elam:

ABSOLUTELY F******* PSYCHED! Sounds SOOOOO much better than working on a set. Jk. Procrastination is not a strong suit of mine. BUT MANUAL LABOR SURE AS HELL IS!

Thierno Diallo:

PUMPED as I have been doing this for years!