Student body President-elect Frank Harrison is getting ready to take the reins of Student Government, saying his No.1 goal is to bridge the gap between SG and the student body.
Harrison said he wants students to not just be aware of what is going on in SG, but to also be involved.
“The biggest hurdle is awareness,” Harrison said. “Students don’t know what resources Student Government has to offer them or what it is doing to lobby on their behalf. (Vice President-elect Faran Abbasi) and I will be working to improve this through our marketing department, greater communication with the Oracle and a stronger on-campus presence.”
Harrison said he believes if students became more involved with SG, unity on campus would strengthen. One way, he said, is to create a more open SG.
“We will begin by working on themes we’ve developed from talking to students on the campaign trail,” Harrison said. “We hope to add a greater degree of transparency as to what we’re doing in office and SG as a whole. We want to take a much more proactive stance on educating students on what we’re doing for them.”
Harrison, a 21-year-old junior majoring in history with minors in English literature and philosophy, has been involved in SG for two years. He has held leadership roles as the SG senate president and served as a senator and an officer.
“The ironic part is that I don’t even really like politics. I love the public service element, but I don’t care for the actual politics of it all,” Harrison said. “I get asked all the time if I’m going to go into politics, but I really don’t have the stomach for it.”
Harrison said he does not have any career plans for after graduation.
“I’m saving money so I can travel for about six months or a year,” Harrison said. “Then I might come back and go to grad school. Right now I’m just undecided.”
For now, Harrison said he’s just concentrating on preparing for his presidency, which begin in April.
The voter apathy evidenced by the below-average student turnout has also been blamed, in part, on a tumultuous election season that included mishandling of the candidates’ point assessment by the Election Rules Committee, the resignation of the ERC’s director and a trial – which is set to continue on Thursday – that could recall the election.
But despite all of that, Harrison said he isn’t concerned the controversy will alter his objectives.
“This year was not any more controversial than it was in the past,” Harrison said. “I’ve seen how problems foment on the inside, and I’m confident in our ability to spearhead problems. Students need to realize this is a government entity, and whether student, state or national, controversy is unfortunately inherent to such bodies.”
Harrison said his enthusiasm for his new position comes from the ability to serve the student body as the University continues to expand.
“The University is in a huge climate of change with a growing Athletic Department, more on-campus housing and new facilities, and Faran and I are looking forward to strengthening student involvement in these areas. Unfortunately, I’m not excited about only having one year to serve.”
Harrison and Abbasi have begun a transition period with student body President Maxon Victor and Vice President Sameer Ahmed.
“It is every officer’s hope that they can train and work with the incoming officer to make them better than they themselves were in office,” Harrison said. “Faran and I have been shadowing both of them and working with them in hopes that they can empower us to become better than they were in office.”
Harrison and Abbasi accompanied Victor and Ahmed on a Monday afternoon trip to Tallahassee to participate in a meeting of the Florida Student Association. The group will participate in lobbying activities and network with student leaders from other schools around the state.
Harrison said that while he knows change won’t happen overnight, he does have high hopes for increasing the student body’s involvement with its government.
“If students take a stance -even if it’s just being aware of what (SG is) doing – it will make the student voice stronger, and the administration will take more notice.”