As Student Body President Moneer Kheireddine took the stage at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater to give his third State of the Student Body Address, a crowd of around 40 students and faculty members gathered to meet his overall message of student advocacy and representation with applause and support.
After addressing issues Wednesday afternoon such as the consolidation of the USF system, advocacy for sexual assault victims and mental health awareness, Kheireddine explained that he is most excited about reforming the plus/minus grading scale.
Kheireddine’s statement regarding the removal of the minus in the plus/minus grading system was met with obvious approval from audience members.
The audience that gathered seemed equally as excited and supportive of this specific initiative, applauding the notion that it is a much-needed change to the academic standard.
Kheireddine further explained that Student Government (SG) is working to ensure that students are not being punished academically for a simple grade weight discrepancy.
“A lot of our students have been very actively participating in a discussion on that topic (grading scale),” Kheireddine said. “It won’t be an easy road, but it’s a fight that I am excited to have.”
According to Kheireddine, students can also look forward to more resources in support of mental health.
USF hosted its first Mental Health Awareness Day on Jan. 12 with a mental health expo and various counselling sessions, but Kheireddine’s address included a look ahead to a potential full week of mental health awareness activities.
Kheireddine said SG will continue to advocate for students by expanding mental health resources. The USF Counseling Center has recently increased its hours to 6 p.m. while they were originally 5 p.m., but the changes do not stop there.
“Our goal is to continue to increase small and innovative (changes) to ensure that mental health is addressed on our campus,” Kheireddine said. “ There is nothing wrong with having to seek help.”
Kheireddine also said the biggest change SG is hoping to focus on, in regards to mental health, is education and the sharing of resources to overcome the stigma surrounding mental health.
With a diverse audience in attendance, advocacy for every kind of student was an overriding theme in Kheireddine’s address.
One of the initiatives SG is taking to empower all students is following the feedback of surveys sent out to students regarding the building of an on-campus rockwall and a cultural student center. Kheireddine explained that SG will be exploring the avenues of how to bring these initiatives forward in the coming years.
“Our focus has, is and shall continue to be on empowering all USF students to pursue their dreams in whatever shape they may take and giving each and every one of you the tools to do so,” Kheireddine said.
One of the tools SG will be looking to implement that will directly affect students is an increase in allowance for free printing on campus from $2.50 to $3.00. Kheireddine also informed the audience that new printers are currently being built at the Cypress help desk and The Hub 24-hour desk thanks to allocations from the SG executive branch.
Kheireddine commented on changes that have been implemented in the past like the dispersion of free feminine hygiene products across campus and the establishment of the Greens and Gold Fresh Market.
The Center for Student Well-Being was credited by Kheireddine for partnering with SG over the past year to implement these changes. The audience applauded the Center for Student Well-Being, showing approval of both the free feminine-hygiene products and the Greens and Gold Fresh Market.
Another initiative that Kheireddine placed importance on is the establishment of the Safe Transfer Act. After USF was placed under federal investigation of the handling of sexual assault cases, a joint resolution was passed in support of notating transcripts of those who have been either found guilty of a Title IX or are under investigation to increase combative efforts against sexual assault on the USF campus and across the nation.
The address was wrapped up with Kheireddine noting the consolidation of the USF system into a singularly accredited system, referring to it as a “new and unexpected challenge.” He explained that students will be receiving a summary report of how a consolidation of USF St. Petersburg, USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF Tampa campuses will directly affect USF Tampa and what changes will be coming.
Kheireddine expressed personal disagreement with the consolidation, but said the students and their experience will receive representation from the various campuses and that he will advocate on behalf of USF during these “difficult and trying times.”
“We have a bright and inspiring future ahead of us still to come,” Kheireddine said. “We have a future that all of us will be proud to make our own.”