Maxon Victor and Sameer Ahmed will be taking their posts as student body president and vice president today. It will be hard for the newcomers to be taken seriously by USF’s administration. The student body president has a seat on the Board of Trustees and will vote on all matters the Board does. But in the past it has become obvious that USF’s administration does not mind going against the recommendations of the only direct representative from the student body who sits on the Board. This is troubling, and the newly-minted president and vice president will have a hard time taking a stance against such behavior.
This became painfully obvious when the BOT gave President Judy Genshaft a raise of $16,320 in addition to a $35,000 “performance-based bonus.” When then-student body President Bijal Chhadva was the sole member of the BOT who raised an objection, laughter could be heard from at least one other member. BOT Chairman Dick Beard had stated he saw the meeting merely as a formality. And while both faculty and students had voiced concerns over whether Genshaft’s raise was justified — most of them said it was not — the BOT went against such objections.
Chhadva had also criticized Genshaft during a previous meeting for being largely inaccessible to both student and faculty member’s concerns. Hopefully, the new student body representatives can offer Genshaft help at reconnecting with students and faculty alike.
With the change of guards also comes the chance to leave behind the infighting that has plagued Student Government for years. Certain actions, such as the impeachment of former student body President Omar Khan and vice president Andrew Aubery left a bad aftertaste from an otherwise effective SG.
Victor and Ahmed now have the chance to impact such developments at USF. It remains to be seen what approach they will take, but the groundwork for a fresh start has been laid.