Meet the candidates
Three students run in this year’s student body elections
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2014 02:02
Whyte said he and Cocco plan on working to enhance the community around USF, an issue highly discussed at Monday’s presidential debate.
“Bulls Country is an idea that we’ve been selling to students for years now and it’s not real,” Whyte said. “The most Bulls Country we are is at football games. Once we stopped winning, people stopped believing in Bulls Country and it circles around football, which is a fickle thing, and that’s a problem. Cocco and I believe through external parties with Wal-Mart or Chipotle, we can actually effectively make this Bulls Country. If you can go to Chipotle and sit on green and gold seats, that’s a beautiful thing. If you go to Wal-Mart and see a U on the front, I don’t know if that’s ambitious but these relationships can be made.”
“When students identify that this is their Wal-Mart, they start shopping there and take ownership of it,” Whyte said. “People don’t shop there now because it’s ‘sketchy’ and it doesn’t represent the ideas that USF has.”
Cocco said he and Whyte have a wide reach at the university, with Cocco’s experience in Student Government and Whyte’s work in many student organizations.
However, Cocco said he and Whyte plan on reaching out to many students in various groups on campus reaching out to Greek Village, where he said parking is a problem for weekly chapter meetings, as well as focusing more on academics in every college.
“USF is such a great university but it has untapped potential,” he said. “There’s too many people on the sidelines. It starts at the SG level, but then goes on to everyone else… the ones that will be running the country in 20 or 30 years.”
Danish Hasan, a freshman majoring in biomedical science, said he’s had an interest in politics since high school, where he worked for his Student Government speaking with local officials from Hernando County.
“Being a minority, it was always a goal to represent those who are underrepresented,” he said.
Hasan, who is running with Harsh Patil, also a freshman majoring in biomedical science, said the two initially didn’t intend to run for office so early in their collegiate careers. But after encountering things that didn’t make sense to them, Hasan said he thought they had a “fresh agenda” that could make things work better.
“Being a freshman, it’s a very farfetched goal,” Hasan said. “Then we came across things that didn’t quite make sense to us, such as the library closing down. At the same time Student Government (SG) is proposing massive increases in the budget going to the Spring Homecoming and USF Week. We feel that there could be a better-balanced budget. Things like that are quite possible because they are the responsibility of student government … we have a different perspective than the current student government and candidates who are all seniors.”
But Patil said as he and Hasan have gone around speaking to students trying to educate themselves about the issues, they have found that many people don’t know much about SG.
Hasan said he hopes to create a greater sense of engagement with students who are currently underrepresented. He wants to create a committee of graduate students, who he said currently feel detached from the university because of time of events not catered to their interests.
He also said he wanted to create committees with representation from each undergraduate class of students in order to get a better gauge of what the student body needs,
“We don’t have any big ideas like building a football stadium, what we want are
fundamental changes that will cater better to the needs of USF students,” he said. “We want more accountability and transparency. Currently a football stadium is quite expensive. We have a lot of budget issues like keeping the Library running, we don’t have too many printers for example. We’re a university first and our education is our primary interest.”
Achieving a balanced budget, he said, is a goal that can be reached within a few years of proper leadership.
Patil said improving safety off-campus is also a priority for their campaign. The two hope to extend blue-light emergency call centers to housing areas off-campus and increase the presence of Bullrunner bus shuttles there during peak hours.
“Safety on 42nd and safety on 50th are big items that need to be taken care of,” Patil said. “Especially considering the fact that problems there are problems happening on almost a monthly basis. They’re on the news whether it be regarding a break in or a sexual assault. Even though they are not a technical part of USF Housing, they’re still the students that come to our school that pay the tuition and are still under the student body. We should be protecting them.”