Of the many students walking past the Phyllis P. Marshall Center on Tuesday, only a small portion came to voice their concerns at the first “open” Student Government forum.
Some representatives handed out surveys, while others beckoned passers-by to post their issues with SG on three available message boards.
Tuition and parking increases were some of the main concerns for the interested students who took time out of their day to meet with SG.
“We pay enough in tuition and fees,” one student wrote. “Give us a break with the ticketing.”
Other issues ranged from demands for funding increases for student groups to more food options on campus and more programs dealing with diversity issues.
“It’s mostly about money,” student body President Maxon Victor said. “If it’s not about parking, it’s about (Activity and Service) fees. It’s about the way money’s moving.”
One Magnolia Apartments resident wanted justification for tuition costs.
“Why are we not offered more incentives?” she said. “Nothing is improving. Where is all that money going?”
USF staff member Larry Thurmond thought SG leadership could be improved and felt compelled to write suggestions on all three available message boards.
“Sometimes I feel like (SG) is all talk and no action,” Thurmond said. “When they really come down to it, they don’t follow through with their promises. I support the students and would like to see students get some good leadership in there.”
SG senator Stephen Pecoraro said he was disappointed that most of the students he saw at the forum already knew most SG members.
“When I came, I didn’t see as many people as I would have liked to see,” Pecoraro said. “I wish more students understood what we do for them. I think people tend to associate SG with pizza parties and ice cream socials. We’re about legislative issues, which affect students staff and faculty.”
SG handles more than $8 million in A&S fees paid by students as part of their tuition. SG also operates several agencies that serve students, such as SG Computer Services, SAFE Team, WBUL and the Student Resource Agency.
Senator Chiraq Vijapura said he was surprised how many students missed one of the easiest questions on the “Spin the Wheel” trivia game.
“Some students didn’t even know who the president (of the University) was,” he said. “If a student doesn’t care enough about their University to know who the president is, then how are they going to care who we are?”
Overall, College of Education senator Julie Baumann said the forum was a success. Students completed more than 150 surveys at the forum, she said.
“More students were willing to voice their concerns and find out more information about SG and activities on campus,” Baumann said. “We only had about 20 to 30 students show up for the general assembly.”
In previous years, the SG equivalent to the open forum was known as the general assembly. It was a formal dinner conducted inside the Marshall Center for campus leaders.
Even though all students were invited to the dinner, both Baumann and Victor said many students did not show up due to the time and location of the event. Consequently, it was decided to move the event outside and at a time when most students could casually drop by and voice their concerns.
“We really want to set the pace and allow students to communicate with Student Government,” Victor said. “We really want to know what’s on the hearts and minds of students.”