The candidates for student body president stood in front of about 20 students to discuss their campaigns’ focus. The debate, held at the MLK Plaza Monday night allowed the candidates to present several issues.
All of the ticket campaigns chose parking as an issue, but other issues, such as diversity, safety, student involvement, money allocation, Bright Future preservation and tuition stability, were issues that the campaigns said were important and vital to the USF students.
Mike Berman and Ronda Bostick, who spoke first, said “Leadership through Diversity” and “Got Issues?” (after the “Got Milk?” ad) were their slogans for their campaign.
“Two major focuses (of our campaign) are Cultural Spotlight, which means we will pair up with student organizations that already have programs going on to better the organization as well as their tie to Student Government organization,” said Bostick, a vice presidential candidate. “We are also looking at diversity dialogue where leaders of these organizations will be able to come together once a month and talk about the issues and keep open the lines of communication between the organizations so that we don’t have discrepancies of organizations between ourselves on our campus.”
Presidential candidate Berman said the problems with parking for residents was an important issue for their campaign.
“It takes way too long to get that garage built, and we know that the residents are having problems with parking as well,” said Berman. “We would like to see another two floors of Crescent Hill garage be dedicated to resident students immediately after the new garage is complete. We would also like to see Lots 16 and 35 be expanded. They’ve got plenty of land around them, and there’s no reason why they can’t make some use of that as soon as possible.”
Following the Berman-Bostick ticket, the R. Chase Razabdovski and Jorge Rodriguez also said parking was an issue. They added some other issues such as listening to the concerns of students, maintaining Florida Bright Futures Scholarship and a few other academic concerns.
“Instead of focusing on problems and issues we choose, we believe that USF has concerns and a bright future,” said presidential candidate Rozabdovski. “Our campaign team has decided that we will support any continuation of this program any way possible at any expense to the university, or to the state.
“We have issues on Bright Futures, the grading system, tuition increases, USF parking and researching the USF bookstore. I’d like us all to remember, this is about representing the students.”
Vice presidential candidate Rodriguez said their ticket’s intention is to listen to the students.
“We are here because the university has a lot of concerns,” said Rodriguez. “We are here to listen to you. We understand some things are out of our reach, but we will do everything we can do.”
The Omar Khan and Ryan Morris ticket introduced themselves with the credentials of Khan.
The presidential candidate is a senior majoring in political science, a third year resident assistant and just returned from Washington D.C. where he worked for U.S. Representative Nancy Paloci, who is a minority leader of the House.
His running mate, Ryan Morris, followed by admitting his lack of governmental experience, but highlighting his concern for the lack of spirit that USF has.
“In our last presidential election, 1,500 out of 37,000 students voted. There’s got to be something wrong with that, and I think it goes hand-in-hand with motivation and school spirit on campus. Why is it when I look around, like in my residence hall parking lot, do I see Florida State and University of Florida tags? If I go to Florida State, I don’t see USF tags, so what’s the problem? How come people aren’t motivated? We have issues to bring to the table … we want to improve parking on campus, we want to do things to save Bright Futures, fight excessive tuition increase and improve student involvement on campus, better representation of the students and better awareness of what goes on here on campus.”
The Bijal Chhadua and Candice Wild ticket also promoted student involvement as a part of their campaign’s intentions. Presidential candidate Bijal Chhadua said he agreed with the voting problems on our campus.
“I am a sophomore. I started at USF last summer, and right now I am a resident assistant at USF for Delta Hall and I am a part of the ROTC Army Program,” Chhadua said. “We want to get more students involved on campus. That is one of our main issues. Like Omar and Ryan said, last year we had only 1,500 votes out of 39,000 population of the entire USF, but within the Tampa campus we are talking more like 29,000 students. We have some wonderful programs on campus, and we just want to go out and get students involved. Some of the ways we are going to do that is to have a newsletter which can go out to all the USF students every day.”
Vice presidential candidate Wild said one of the problems with the lack of involvement is the lack of communication. She said students should spread the word about activities on campus to get people involved. She also said it is important for the students to know how their money is allocated.
“One of the problems we have on campus is word-of-mouth,” Wild said. “We need people to know about Student Government. We want people to know where their money is going. We want you as students, who are paying thousands and thousands of dollars to this university, to know where that money is.”