Student Government: SG trades food, games for students’ opinions

More than 20 student and University organizations gathered at the Student Government (SG) Forum outside the Phyllis P. Marshall Center on Wednesday to promote their individual causes and support SG.

The forum, designed as a tool for student organizations to voice their concerns to SG, has evolved into an event where students have the opportunity to tell SG their problems with USF. This is its third year in this capacity.

While some students said they didn’t know about the forum, many were enticed by the music and free food.

Students were asked to fill out a questionnaire, either on paper or on a laptop. Senate President Nathan Davison said the questions were intentionally general to encourage thorough responses.

“These particular questions are general enough to allow people to have the ability to voice their concerns,” he said.

Members of the SG Senate reviewed the questionnaires and members of the executive branch were available to answer questions.

Students were asked what they liked best about USF and what needs to be improved. After filling out the questionnaire, they received a voucher for free pizza, sandwiches and smoothies. They also could enter a raffle to win athletic gear signed by coaches, including Jim Leavitt.

Michelle Alvarez, a freshman majoring in chemical engineering, said she told SG that parking needs to be improved and that the cafeterias should extend their hours.

“Cafeterias should be open longer – like 24/7,” she said.

Boatman said she is concerned with class sizes and told SG that the University should mandate smaller class sizes.

SG will gather the responses, categorize them and present the overall themes to the new senators in the summer.

Senator Jerry Trotter, chair of the organizational outreach committee, said the new senators would need to address these concerns to better serve the students.

“If you want to be the best stewards possible, handle these,” he said.

Trotter spearheaded organizing the forum and said it took “a couple of months” to set everything up. It was a success, but he said it could have been improved.

SG has retention problems “just like any other organization,” he said. Marketing for the event could have been better and it took a long time to organize it in part to the transient nature of SG, he said.

Most organizations on campus were invited to the forum by student government.

“We invited every single organization on the planet,” said Senator Bruno Portigliatti. Out of the 100 contacted, 21 responded and set up displays.

Some University organizations were invited to participate in the forum as well, including AlliedBarton, University Police (UP) and the Marshall Student Center.

AlliedBarton, which has faced student criticism since arriving last fall, said the forum gave them a chance “to get the students familiar with why we’re here and the service we provide,” accounting manager Mitch Crawford said.

“We had a rough start, we had some opposition,” he said. “(But) some of those clouds are going away now.”

UP said that their presence at the forum would promote a better understanding to students of what UP does on campus.

“The more educating we can do, they better,” Lt. Joe Anderson said.

Many students are concerned with campus safety, Trotter said, and having security personnel at the forum gives students a chance to ask questions.

“Now they have an opportunity to meet one on one,” he said.

Students also had the opportunity to meet with student organizations.

Stacy Walker, the vice president of the University Film & Video Association @ USF, said the organization participated to advertise.

“We need some more members, more exposure on campus,” said Walker, a junior majoring in mass communications.

Public Relations officer of People Respecting Individual Diversity and Equality Kayleigh Pinkett, a sophomore majoring in classics, said she wants students to know they have control over the organizations they see.

“If they’re not using their voice, they’re missing out,” she said.