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We had a Debate!


Nominations to Run for the Board of Directors

According to the Bylaws, nominees for the Board of Directors must either be a current member of an FC chapter or currently serving on the Board.

Reminder, nominations close at Midnight PDT on April 30, 2010.


Nominations are accepted through April 30. Between April 30 and May 10, candidates will answer questions from the community and participate in one live Q/A session.

Chapters will receive e-vote tokens by email on Monday, May 10th, and must cast their votes by Friday, May 14. The results will be announced on Monday, May 17th.

How to nominate someone

  1. Contact that person.
  2. Edit this page and copy-paste the template below.
  3. Complete the information to reflect your nominee.

What to do if you are nominated

  1. Wait for your sponsor to add you to this page.
  2. Update the Bio and Statement sections below your name.

List of Nominees

(in alphabetical order, by last name)

Last Name, First Name, Chapter

  • Nominated by ...



Donovan, Kevin

  • "Nominated by Parker Phinney"
  • Nomination declined



Driscoll, Kevin

  • "Nominated by Kevin Donovan"


This month, I will finish my first year as a PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in the University of Southern California where the SFC chapter is currently in hibernation. Last year, I was a graduate student at MIT and a member of MIT Free Culture. Before that, I was a high school computer science teacher in Cambridge, MA where I participated in a variety of Free Culture-related activities as an at-large community member. In addition to all of this schoolwork, I've been a DJ, helped run an art gallery, and am really fast at texting with T9.

Moar bio:


Big picture: My relationship to free culture developed primarily out of experiences making music as a DJ and in bands. When my music cultures started to crossover to the internet in the early 2000s, a few really crummy things happened alongside a ton awesome stuff. The crummy things mostly revolved around a handful of highly-capitalized industry stakeholders who believed that their business models should supersede social norms shared by thousands of people. Since then, I've been concerned with internet governance in the hope that we can limit the chilling effects that bad policies can have on creative people working in classrooms, labs, studios, bedrooms, and basements.

Small picture: In the short term, I hope to remain on the board of SFC in 2010 in order to see several important administrative projects to completion. First, I have been creating better infrastructure for our finances and steering the process of establishing SFC, Inc. as a 501(c)3 non-profit entity. I am also looking forward to establishing our first official Faculty Advisory Board this summer and making major headway toward hiring our first staff. Each of these projects will contribute to longer-term stability and institutional memory which will, in turn, provide much-needed support for both new and existing chapters.

Finally, I was very inspired by a discussion at FCX about developing survey instruments to measure the open university principles of the Wheeler Declaration. I am hopeful that we can begin to administer preliminary surveys in the fall semester of 2010 so that we will have some actual data to play with when we next meet as a whole community in 2011!

Ducruet, Christina

  • "Nominated by Parker Phinney"
  • "Nomination Declined"



It has been a great honor to serve on the Board of Students for Free Culture in the last two years. Best of luck to the other (awesome) nominees!

Fassina, Andrea

  • "Nominated by Ben Moskowitz"
  • Nomination accepted


I am currently in my third year of study doing a Master in Electronics at the University of York in England. I have always been interested in alternatives to copyrighted material but my interest in Free Culture started in 2008 when I accidentally found out about it during a conference in San Francisco. Upon coming back to the UK I started the process to register a chapter, which is now running and has around 35 members. I think this is the first one in the UK, although two more are getting started in Birmingham and Manchester. I was lucky enough to attend FCX in Washington DC and came in contact with some brilliant and excited people, who increased my interest and activism in Free Culture. I plan to give a presentation to faculty and students on Free Culture by the end of the summer term. I am working in Brazil in September and October at FEMA doing Java programming.


My main goal is to spread interest and awareness in the Free Culture movement first in the United Kingdom and then in Europe. I believe it is now time that students start discussing focal issues like privacy, security, open source and network neutrality and copyright law at the university level. The world around us is changing and as the future leaders and tax payers of tomorrow we must have a better understanding of how technology is shaping our life and we must understand that these changes not only encompass engineers but economists, lawyers, artists, journalists, historians, believers and philosophers. I see the Free Culture movement as a forum for bringing all these different, and seemingly unrelated, subjects together to expand vertically and horizontally the knowledge in these issues, which at the end of the day impact deeply our life - much more than it apparently seems. In order to foster the growth of the Free Culture movement in Europe:

  • Set up a database of information specific to - for example - Uk law regarding copyright, which European institutions and interest group would be willing to support us, the contact names and expertise area of members in the chapters and a summary of projects that chapters are working or planning to work on. Also, the goal of this database would be to utilize the specific skill of every member and ease organizational and cooperative issues.
  • Spread the word in any way possible - banners, leaflets, chatting with friends, actions, projects. Find issues which are important to people involved in different areas, ie customization. An engineer might be interested in open source software like Ubuntu, where as a historian in the Vatican starting a project to put all of its texts in FITS, open source format, an economist in how much the university would save if it used non licensed software.
  • Material. We need more Free Culture merchandising, from T-Shirts to stickers, Ubuntu cds and open source software. A system must be set up to provide chapters with, for example, t-shirts, at a discounted price so they can be resold for a profit to increase funding. Having more merchandising has the double effect of raising money and awareness. Also, custom printed t-shirts could be an option. I have bought some blank t-shirts, some transfer paper and I am planning to buy a heat press in order to reduce the cost of production and sell them at the university market to generate some funding for the York chapter.
  • The long term goal for next year is to organize a UK Free Culture conference with a similar structure of FCX, but invite members of the industry as well (like IBM intellectual property lawyers), perhaps representatives from the Pirates party, which now has two seats in the European parliament and people from interest groups which are focused on similar issues and could give their input from a different point of view. For example Airi Kivi from the Bank of Happiness. This is easier said than done, so I plan to start preparation in this academic year in collaboration with Free Culture activists in the University of Birmingham and Manchester and people who have already organized FCX and the 2008 conference in the US. I have already registered a domain which I plan to host all the information of the conference.

I fully agree on the need for a paid staff position. Having a person working full time for the organization would speed up different processes like chapters registration and start up, provide a single face to the movement and allow more issues to be tackled. Funding for this position must be sought from different companies, like Google, Mozilla, IBM, Paypal, Skype or groups like the Pirates Party and EFF.

Higgins, Parker

  • "Nominated by Parker Phinney"
  • Nomination accepted


I'm a graduating senior from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where I've constructed a major in Creativity, Free Speech, & Intellectual Property. I joined NYU's Free Culture chapter after reading Lessig's book heading into my freshman year, and subsequently served as its treasurer and then president. I currently serve on the SFC board, and thus assisted with the planning of the February "Free Culture X" conference.


The board this year has made some important progress: official incorporation in my home state of California, steps taken to 501(c)3 status, and strategizing future goals about the form and structure of the organization. We've received contact from dozens of prospective chapters, and have opened up discussions with many of them about establishing SFC presence at their institutions. I'm proud of the work we've done this year, and I think there's a lot that still remains.

As Parker (Phinney) wisely points out, none of the candidates here are going to be real outliers in terms of philosophy or approach. This organization consistently selects great candidates, and I'd be happy with any five of those nominated. That said, I think there's some important points to make and some important qualities I offer to the position.

  • We need to revamp our new chapter registration system so that the interest we're receiving can really be channeled into the actual establishment of chapters. We need to have a way to keep in contact with new or unstable chapters and provide support. This may be an intraorganizational movement, as I believe the best advice new chapters can receive is from more veteran chapters.
  • I support the idea of hiring a staffer to help with that process. As we continue along the 501(c)3 road, we're becoming more credible to raise grant money and have a real budget as an organization. With a hired gun, as it were, we could make sure that somebody is paying attention to new chapters, and providing all chapters with some level of institutional support.

I think it's important that at least some of this year's board remains in place for next year. We've started a lot of great things in motion, and I'm afraid that it would be difficult for five new board members to follow all of the strings. Of course, each of the individuals nominated is a capable person and would be able to figure things out, but I'd hate to see our progress set back because of too much churn.

Kamdar, Adi

  • "Nominated by Ben Moskowitz"
  • Nomination accepted


I'm a sophomore at Yale University, where I'm trying to create a Science, Technology, and Society major, but if that doesn't work, I'll probably be a History of Science, History of Medicine major. I first got involved with Free Culture in high school with the chapter that Parker Phinney started up, and I started up the Yale chapter at the end of last school year. Since then, it has grown from pretty much a five person operation to a much, much bigger setup, with around 20+ dedicated members, and hundreds of affiliated folks. We've hosted many events this year, including three that had 100 to 250 people in attendance. We've also gained international attention, with our activism being picked up by the BBC, NPR, HuffPo, Slashdot, and more. We've also made headway with an Open Access initiative, helping with an OA repository and spearheading a senior thesis repository. I also worked with the Open Video Alliance, interning with the Open Video Conference and blogging for the remainder of the year. I'll be working at the Berkman Center this summer.


Basically, I've been very fortunate to have access to some of the biggest names in this movement, which has helped spur the growth of my school's chapter of SFC. We've held events, spread awareness, been on the news, stirred some controversy——but mainly only within the Yale sphere. If you asked a majority of the members of our group about the international Students for Free Culture organization itself, you'd probably get blank stares.

There's a disconnect, and it needs to be bridged. Fixing this needs to address the importance of the movement as a whole and provide chapters with ways to contribute/get involved. We need something like...

  • Monthly state-of-the-movement emails. These should be easily forwardable and in plain speak. This should help get the word out about recent issues, cool things happening at different chapters, cool ideas for events, and more. The most important thing, in my opinion, is that these should be accessible by a good amount of the population... technical ideas and jargon should be explained, but the audience shouldn't be treated like babies.
  • Big group / small group connection. Chapters should report in, and the bigger group should check in. We do a lot of cool stuff, but a lot of times we forget to let the world know.
  • Generic resources and events-in-a-box. There should be one page or half page sheets addressing things like open access, net neutrality, "is free culture piracy?" and more. These should be easily modifiable, printable, and accessible to the layperson. Also, event ideas: like Parker Phinney noted, things like movie screenings of FC-related films are EASY. Pages with basic ideas and premade propaganda should exist.
  • Chapter sustainability advice. How to attract members, how to keep members, how to organize members, how to make mailing lists and which should be used for what, how to get your name out, how to be sexy, how to appeal to the layperson, how to appeal to faculty. All of this is important to the health of the chapter, and I think basic advice will prevent the current situation where some of our most active chapters are one-man operations.

And some broader thoughts:

  • General user friendliness. If you can't tell, I'm all about accessibility and approachability, which I believe has helped our chapter skyrocket. Maybe this is because I don't come from a very technical background, but being able to convince people requires being able to connect with people on their level. Our movement is already laden with jargon that is hard to approach, and if people are to care, they're going to need to be able to understand.
  • Website should feature issues, news, chapter updates, etc. Basically, what it's supposed to be now, but actually working. There should be a reason to go to the website. (Also, the chapter list should be cleaned up.)

Regarding the paid staff member, I feel like ideally this would be nice to have. I'm not entirely convince that the group is in the best state to need one of these, though. Perhaps having a staff member would help get the group in the proper state. If we were to get one, funding would be solicited from different groups and companies.

I realize I've talked a lot about what I want to see and not a lot about why I should be elected. Perhaps that's reason enough. I care about the growth of this movement in general, and I would love to see it unified and more noteworthy.

Moskowitz, Ben

  • "Nominated by Kevin Donovan"

Nomination accepted


Hi, I’m Ben. When I’m not building spaces for communities to interact, I like to play Capcom fighting games and go skateboarding. But my favorite thing in the world is new ideas. If you’re ever in New York, give me a call and we will have lively conversation and drinks.

I'm currently the director of the Open Video Alliance, a coalition to democratize the moving image. Visit for more.


SFC has much work to do, including the completion of 501c3 incorporation, becoming financially self-sufficient, and assembling standing officers (including a faculty advisory board and at least one full-time coordinator). We're almost there on several of these, and just starting on others.

Every year, SFC gets about 40-50 inquiries for new chapters. We need to build better engagement to ensure that these chapters come to fruition.

My hope is that in the near future, SFC will begin to realize its potential as an international campus organization and professional incubator. But we need new energy. I have enjoyed helping SFC along this path in the last year, and will happily continue working if I am asked.

Best wishes, Ben

Phinney, Parker

  • "Nominated by Ben Moskowitz"
  • Nomination accepted


I'm a sophomore at Dartmouth, majoring in Computer Science. I first became involved in Students for Free Culture a little less than four years ago (back then it was, when I was so inspired by Cory Doctorow's Toorcon Keynote speech that I emailed him to ask how a young student could get involved. Since then I've had the pleasure of founding two SFC chapters (one at my high school and one at Dartmouth), leading the web team, attending the two most recent (2008 and 2010) Free Culture conferences, and serving as vice-chair on the now-defunct "core team." I interned at Creative Commons in San Francisco last summer and worked in Philadelphia this past Winter with SFC alumni Asheesh Laroia and Raphael Krut-Landau on the Free/Open-Source community website My activism at Dartmouth for the past year and half has been focused on working with students, faculty, and staff to create a Dartmouth OpenCourseWare initiative. Also, I enjoy long walks on the beach.


From conversations with the other candidates at the conference this past winter, as well as some more recent conversations with a few of the candidates, I can say that we don't disagree on much.

  • We need more support for small chapters, particularly the smaller ones.
    • The global organization (perhaps the Board, perhaps a re-instated Core team) needs to check in with chapters periodically to ask what successes they have had and what challenges they are facing and then to offer advice.
    • The global organization needs to provide "packaged" events to chapters, so that they can easily have programming with little preparation. Again, this is particularly true for smaller chapters. Last year's screenings of RiP: A Remix Manifesto are a great example--students only needed to sign up in order to receive a DVD copy of the film and posters to put up around campus.
  • We need a paid staffperson to hold the organization together. This staffperson would fill in the cracks on tasks such as answering emails and phone calls, checking in with chapters, and interfacing with other organizations to solicit funding or other support (advertising, space), especially in relation to organizing the annual conference.
  • We need more dynamic website content and mailing list conversations to tell the world that we are active, and to inspire each-other to do more awesome work.
    • The guest blogging series on the Google Book Search settlement did a great job of this.
    • As part of periodic check-ins, chapters should be encouraged to report back after successful events and campaigns, giving the community pointers and resources (posters, email templates) for holding similar events and running similar campaigns

One thing that sets me apart somewhat from the other candidates is my technical knowledge. That's not to say that I'm necessarily less equipped with the skills that are more specific to leading an organization of activists. How to Win Friends And Influence People and Rules for Radicals are the two most recent items on my reading list. Nonetheless, a great deal of good can be done for our organization by simply improving our software. For example, we lose a nontrivial number of potential chapters to our cumbersome chapter database system. I don't hope to solve all of our software problems my self--I plan to ask for help from the web team and perhaps to find funding to contract a freelance developer. Having a more tech-oriented and specifically web tech-oriented member on the board would greatly improve the process of translating our organizational goals in to the right software solutions.

Rajaram, Aditi

  • "Nominated by Ben Moskowitz"
  • Nomination accepted


I'm a soon-to-be-senior at NYU, double majoring in Journalism and Political Science. I first got involved with Free Culture @ NYU after reading an article in the New York Times about Free Culture, and started showing up to the meetings. Subsequently, I served as Secretary and Vice President, and will be serving as President next year; I've also had the pleasure of attending 2008 and 2010's Free Culture conferences. I've attacked Free Culture issues from a journalism standpoint, and was instrumental in getting our new media newspaper to go Creative Commons. I am currently pushing for campus-wide adoption by publications of less restrictive copyright licenses.


My primary concerns for this upcoming year are variations of what others have been saying, as follows:

  • I'm focused on gender diversity, and I think that one of the ways to get more girls involved is to ensure the Free Culture environment is one that is easily accessible; there should be no presumption of any sort of barrier (such as a certain amount of technological savvy, which is my guess as to the biggest reason for the gender divide).
  • Making sure every SFC chapter feels personally connected with the global national community is another priority. Beyond organizing larger Free Culture conferences, perhaps having fledgling SFC groups Skype or somehow virtually connect with established SFC groups might be a good way to keep fledging groups engaged.
    • In addition, perhaps having a "mentoring" system of some sort, where groups are paired off (a "big sibling" type system) will encourage small groups to stay involved with the larger movement and grow.
  • Partnering with other related organization will be a great way to encourage growth. Within NYU, we have successfully partnered with like-minded groups or people that are interested in similar things; for example, we have had and plan to have Linux launch parties with the NYU branch of Association of Computing Machinery, thus getting people that are not directly involved with SFC interested.
  • Creating pitches that apply to the layperson, so that our goals and aims are not loaded with technical jargon.

With respects to the full-time paid staff member, I think that is a wonderful idea but I am also not sure that is what our organization can sustain one right now; however, if we were to secure funding to do so via various grants and reliance on other organizations, I would love to have one.

I think I can offer a unique perspective on Free Culture issues, being a girl as well as someone who is not studying anything immediately Free Culture related academically. I have had the pleasure of belonging to a very active and engaged SFC chapter, and I look forward to carrying that enthusiasm into the broader community. I'm hyper-organized so I think I can play a crucial role in the forward motion of this organization. Lastly, and this is the biggest reason that I want to serve on the board, is that I care. I care about what we're doing and where we're going.

Questions, Thoughts, Concerns

This is a space for any FC member to post thoughts to provoke and guide the statements of board nominees.

  • Where is SFC in May 2011? What are the discrete steps to get there?
  • What's your strategy (if any) to get funding for a full-time SFC director?
  • What organizations are key partners and how do you forge these?
  • Do you plan on holding a job during your tenure?
  • What is your plan for a conference - will we have one? Where should it be? What should be the focus?
  • Has the Open University campaign been successful not as a project for free culture but as a project for Students for Free Culture (ie., have enough members participated, has there been maintained interest, has SFC made a successful impact anywhere, etc.)? How will you approach this project and new projects in the next year?
  • How do you plan to capitalize on the SFC member/alum network (particularly with their projects, eg., Open Video Alliance, Participatory Culture Foundation, etc.)?

Past Nominations