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Food and prizes for student views

As he stood on his skateboard and noshed on a chicken wing in the MLK Plaza on Monday, Joel Quina did precisely what student government leaders hoped he would do if enticed with free food and smoothies: he voiced his opinion to student leaders.

“(Members of SG) don’t control a huge percentage of the budget, but they do control the money that matters most to students,” said Quina, a sophomore and captain of the drum line. “I think it’s important for students to come because SG needs to know what people want.”

Joel joined about 700 to 800 other students during Student Government’s Forum, an semiannual event that promises students free food, refreshments and prizes for their thoughts.

SG’s Organizational Outreach Committee (OOC) – which coordinates the Forum once a semester – uses the event as a tool to help plan SG’s agenda for the following semester.

“We are the voice of the student body,” Senate President Nathan Davison said. “We represent (students) and the administration looks to us for their opinions.”

Most students came for the food, but plenty, like Quina, had valid concerns.

He wanted SG to give more money to the arts for upgrades to band equipment and a new building.

Jessica Zimmerman, a freshman and mass communications major, wanted a change in the music played outside the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.

“It’s always hip-hop all the time,” Zimmerman said. “I think they should get some variety because I kind of feel discriminated against.”

There were also the old standbys – complaints about cramped parking lots and increases in tuition.

“Parking is always a concern,” said Davison. “But the nature of having 20,000 parking spots and 40,000 students is really figuring out how to best accommodate.”

SG’s representatives and officers were on hand to answer students’ questions. SG Vice President Faran Abbasi said SG’s main responsibility is to act in the best interest of the students.

“It is misleading to say we can solve every issue,” said Abbasi. “We have to educate students so that they can determine whether decisions are justified.”

Students could enter the SG Forum Raffle for a chance to win USF gear signed by coach Jim Leavitt. They were asked to fill out a raffle form with their name, e-mail address and phone number in exchange for either a slice of Papa John’s pizza or wings.

Loren Glaser, the OOC committee chair, said students filled out between 700 and 800 raffle forms during the event.

The Forum is an SG tradition and one of the biggest events they coordinate each year, according to Davison. “It is a good way to get free food, but also a good way to have some sort of tangible input into what happens,” he said.

Jamba Juice, McAlister’s Deli, Monster energy drinks, WBUL and Bulls Country provided students with nourishment, music and prizes.

Aside from the Forum, students are able to meet with SG representatives every Tuesday at 6 p.m. to discuss their concerns or by submitting a feedback form online at SG’s Web site,

“I want our goal to be for every student to know where they can find an answer to every question they have,” Glaser said.