Student body leaders preparing to leave office

As the semester draws to a close, student body President Maxon Victor and Vice President Sameer Ahmed are preparing to leave office and pass the torch to student body President-elect Frank Harrison and Vice President-elect Faran Abbasi. Both Victor and Ahmed said that even though neither will be actively involved with Student Government next year, they hope they’ve left a legacy of service to USF as well as the surrounding community and are committed to preparing Harrison and Abbasi to inherit their positions.

Leaving no rest for the weary, both Victor and Ahmed have an important year ahead of their post-presidency. Victor will be completing the final year of his communication major. After graduating this May, Ahmed, a biomedical sciences major, will spend time looking into graduate programs.

“This upcoming year, I just want to be a student. I’m not looking to be active in SG, but I do look to be involved and engaged in Greek Life, still involved with Volunteer USF and even athletics – I guess everything except SG,” Victor said. “Being in SG, it’s been such a learning experience. I feel like I need to get engaged and get involved in other parts of this campus that I enjoyed before I was president just as well. I look forward to just going back to being a regular student.”

Victor pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. this semester, which he said is one of the reasons he no longer has the dreadlocks that students have become familiar with.

“Don’t get me wrong; that’s not the only reason I did it,” Victor said. “I was just willing to have a fresh start over.”

Although Victor said he wasn’t participating in SG next year, he does have a passion for one specific event that he will participate in again. Stampede of Service ’06 was an event organized by both SG and Volunteer USF that brought together more than 900 students who spent a Saturday in January reaching out to the community through various volunteer projects.

“We wanted to become Tampa’s campus,” Victor said. “In becoming Tampa’s University, we held Stampede of Service – SOS ’06 – which was a success. It is safe to say that there will be a SOS ’07, which I will be glad to be a part of. It is something that has brought us closer to the city of Tampa, which is what I know the University overall is trying to do.”

Ahmed agreed and added that the cooperation was a win-win situation for both parties.

“With SOS ’06 we were able to create a better link between the student body and the community,” Ahmed said. “We received recognition from the city of Tampa as well as the University.”

While both Ahmed and Victor agreed there were many memories that come to mind when they reminisce over their terms, there is one that predominately sticks out in Victor’s mind: his controversial performance at the on-campus Less Than Jake concert in March. He received criticism for his band opening at the show, which was partially funded with student money that went through his office. His band ripped up copies of an edition of the Oracle in which an article focused on the possible conflict of interest, and Victor yelled obscenities in the process. He was later criticized for the incident.

“(My favorite memory from this year was) the concert, for sure. Well, the evening of the concert, because it wasn’t just the concert. I had just gotten back from Tallahassee, and it was the first time I saw pictures of me across the campus that weren’t positive, and those pictures were saying that I was spending money frivolously and things of that nature for (the concert).

“I made my statement as an artist because I had just gotten done being president for three days straight, and it was like, ‘It’s here, and there’s no turning back for me.’

“The one thing I like to do is, I like to do things with no regrets, and when I was on that stage and my group and I were performing and I said what I said and my group did what they did, I said, ‘That’s it, fellas, there’s no turning back for me.’ Yeah, we’re going to be chastised for it, some people are going to say, ‘How could you do this or that?’ but I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror when I wake up.’ And I promise you I didn’t have a problem doing that the next day.

“It was exciting because it was the one time I felt like I brought myself to the edge. It was impulsive, but I didn’t regret it. All the folks are always telling me, ‘Watch what you say, and watch what you do,’ but I felt like I expressed myself, and a lot of times I don’t have the opportunity to do that because everything was about being politically correct or appropriate at certain times. I don’t regret anything I’ve done this year.”

Ahmed said that while he knows there has been a lot of controversy surrounding SG this year, he feels as though all of it was important to building a stronger SG in the future.

“There’s not one specific memory from my time in office. The whole thing has been a good experience. I’ve enjoyed all of it thoroughly, even the ups and the down. Its all been good memories in the end,” Ahmed said. “We’ve done everything we showed up to do – everything we showed up to do I believe we were very successful in doing.”

Victor and Ahmed have been working closely with Harrison and Abbasi since, making sure they are fully prepared to take office May 8.

Ahmed said most of the fundamentals he’s trying to pass on deal with personal matters such as the way to dress or behave and said that even after he’s graduated, both Harrison and Abbasi are welcome to come to him if they ever need any advice.

“In a transitioning period, people always assume that it’s always information, information, information, but a lot of the transition thus far has actually been personal in a sense,” Ahmed said. “It’s a matter of spending time with them, explaining to them some of the pitfalls and some of the characteristics … being prepared mentally for the challenge because in the end everyone handles it differently. (We want to teach them) how to handle the pressure and the strain. All of this is more important than any document or committee information we could pass on to them.”

While Victor and Ahmed are ready to move forward with the rest of their lives and bid farewell to SG, both had a few last words for the student body.

“I’d like to thank the student body for all their support this year and having faith in us to accomplish the goals we set out for, and hopefully they believe we did a good job,” Ahmed said.

Victor agreed with Ahmed and added that even with all the controversy that surrounded SG this year, he still hopes that students got a lot out of his term and, that they will continue to work with SG to create more unity and spirit on campus. He had these farewell words for the student body:

“All I ask you to be and all I ask you to do is to be a Bull and be proud to be a Bull. Wherever you go and whatever you do, be proud to be a Bull,” Victor said. “Your college experience is what you make it out to be. You could’ve gone to a smaller university – to what’s deemed a traditional university – but this is your home; this is where you are now, and you’ve got to make the best of it.

“It’s up to you to make USF a better university; it’s up to you to make that degree mean something. You can point fingers at everything, you can point fingers at every professor, but what you need to do is the best you can to make USF a better institution.”