Frank Hernandez, the new director of the Department of Government Affairs, Brett Farrar, the new director of Bulls Radio and Nelson Ling, the returning director of SAFE Team, were confirmed in their positions during Tuesday night’s Student Government (SG) meeting, which raised concerns for some students.
Frank Hernandez, a graduate student majoring in education public policy and the former director of the Department of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, said he wanted to take on the new position to use his interests to further the University.
“I had one year of experience last year in the executive branch,” he said. “I hope to learn from that and take the good, the bad and the ugly and make the new executive branch that much better.”
However, he is also campaigning for a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board – something he neglected to include on his submitted resume and concerned some senators.
“Frank Hernandez is a shady individual,” College of Education Senator Rachel Brown said during the meeting. Brown said she was concerned he would use his position, which requires daily interaction with local and state politicians, to further his campaign.
However, Frank Hernandez, who said his campaigning for a summer seat would be over by Aug. 24 and would not interfere with his new position in SG, said his motives grew out of a desire to “be a part of this.”
“Why didn’t I list it? Because it’s been a contentious issue up to this point,” he said. “The Division of Student Affairs has signed off on it, and they didn’t see it as a conflict of interest. I’m not hiding it.”
But for Chairman for the Senate Committee on Rules Khalid Hassouneh, the legality of Hernandez’s position remains an issue.
“He was not the most qualified person for the position,” Hassouneh said. “You know why? Because no one else was interviewed for his position. Why? Because he was hired and signed the HR paperwork before the 51st term even began as director of Government Affairs.”
Hassouneh said Frank Hernandez began getting paid in his new position before student body President Cesar Hernandez and Vice President Spencer Montgomery were even on payroll – a claim no one denies.
“In regards to the clocking in before appointment, several other members of the executive branch, judicial and agencies were doing it,” said Senate President Jennifer Belmont. “An orange sheet was filed to terminate them so that they would not break the law anymore.”
However, Cesar Hernandez said he had no knowledge of the paper and that Frank Hernandez has been paid for serving as an interim director to assist him while he began hiring positions.
“I’m not really doing anything radical,” Cesar Hernandez said. “When I came in, every position was up for grabs. It’s almost as if, when you’re on a football team, you’re not going to let a freshman take your spot, but every spring semester, you better show up.”
Experience was a concern with Farrar, who has never worked with Bulls Radio or another radio station before receiving his position as director.
“Yes, he does not have experience with Bulls Radio,” said Montgomery, who interviewed the senior finance major and fellow Sigma Nu fraternity brother. “But that does not mean he does not have experience in marketing, promoting and bringing exposure to an organization … We felt the current director is very, very good with technical, but that is not the direction we see.”
Michael Ranon, the current director of Bulls Radio and a senior majoring in civil engineering, has worked at the station for five years and has filled all four of its leadership positions.
“I think the students at Bulls Radio will be pretty outraged that someone who has never even been in the station before is now in charge of the station and basically has control over whether or not they can put their content out anymore,” he said. “This changes absolutely everything. Anything can happen.”
But Farrar said he is confident that he can overcome his lack of technical and personal experience.
“Obviously, right away, I don’t have a radio station in my house, so that is something, along with the other little details, that I would definitely need to learn,” he said.
Ranon also said he is concerned with his expedited interview process. On June 15, he was given only one day notice of his interview – three days before the application deadline closed. His second interview was conducted at 12:30 p.m. on the day of the Senate meeting. An e-mail alerting him to his removal from the position was sent at 5:14 p.m., less than an hour before the Senate meeting commenced.
“I trust Spencer with the decision that he made,” Cesar Hernandez said. “I didn’t like that (Ranon) felt like he could no longer be a part of Bulls Radio … and if this is something that you wanted because you love it, sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. I decided Senate had the ultimate decision.”
Although members of Bulls Radio were present at the meeting, none were able to speak since senators voted to remove “Open Forum” from the Senate agenda.
To voice their opinion, Bulls Radio employees met with the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday, but they were informed that Farrar’s position remained secured.
“Bulls Radio is not a joke to us,” Business Director Brendan Collett said. “It is not a toy. It is not an iPod with an antenna. We all feel very strongly that under the leadership of Mr. Farrar, someone with absolutely no radio experience, Bulls Radio faces dire consequences.”