A few weeks of every academic year alter the future of USF. That time will come for the University this month.
Students talk, chalk and hand out flyers in front of Cooper Hall, the Marshall Student Center, Juniper-Poplar Hall and elsewhere on campus, asking for your vote for Student Government (SG) president. The scene may seem petty and unimportant to some students, and can be hard to take seriously when there are articles written about who erased who’s chalk or kicked over who’s sign.
Still, this year’s SG elections are undeniably important. The results are going to determine the leader of our student body, the person who will represent us for an entire year. Any position that plays a role in determining the future of USF shouldn’t be viewed as petty.
Students must select a president who’s qualified and will represent the student body’s interests.
During a leadership class Wednesday, professor Patrick Romero-Aldaz, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said to his class that the student body president has more power than he does.
That’s a tremendous thing for a professor and department director to say of a student, but it’s certainly true.
The president of the student body has incredible resources at his disposal. He has the power to influence how millions of dollars in student-paid Activity and Service fees are spent.
More importantly, he is one of the 13 people who sit on the USF Board of Trustees. He is the one student, among a group of older professionals, who holds great power over the University. With those responsibilities, the president has the potential to do some great things.
Consider that Juan Soltero, who was president from 2008-09, helped implement the Bull Tracker system that many use to determine when to head to Bull Runner stops and which route to take.
Additionally, Cesar Hernandez and his administration were responsible, in part, for hosting the gubernatorial and senatorial debates at USF’s campus. They helped lead the effort and succeeded in bringing the state and national political processes right to campus, getting USF national exposure in the process.
The next president should follow in their footsteps by finding a way to leave a mark on USF. It’s students’ responsibility to determine whom that is.
USF needs a candidate who has a vision and who understands what students think USF is and what they want it to be. Most importantly, students should look for someone who represents and unites everyone, someone who can represent multicultural groups and Greek life (including the service and academic fraternities). The president has to be a volunteer, someone who knows the school’s athletes and someone who feels the pulse of the student body.
The winner should have some experience in SG as well, because the president will have to oversee the executive branch and negotiate and compromise with the Senate.
The qualifications aren’t easy and the election should be taken very seriously. As a peer, the president is going to have the responsibility of voicing students’ opinions and achieving the things they want achieved. So when the candidates start campaigning, voters need to take a careful look at whom the hopefuls are and what their ideas and ideals are.
Students should try to see past whatever gimmicks or arguments are involved in this campaign season and focus on discovering who the people running really are and if they deserve to lead us.
Pay attention, be discerning and vote carefully.
Vincent DeFrancesco is a junior majoring in mass communications.