Diazs long journey to presidency culminates on Inauguration Day

More than one month ago, Matt Diaz, a junior majoring in political science and philosophy, was elected as the next student body president.

For Diaz, his inauguration today is years in the making.

The ceremony, which runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater, will be another step toward a longtime dream.

“Since I was in second grade, I always wanted to be President of the United States,” Diaz said. “But here at USF, while I was a freshman in Beta Hall, I told my RA (Andrew Rodgers) I want to be president of USF. Four years later, things panned out.”

The president-elect said that motivation was always in the back of his mind, but it’s not the reason he participated in campus activities. Diaz said he just wanted to be involved.

“I wanted to be engaged in our USF community,” he said.

Diaz, who officially takes office May 6, faces an educational climate that will challenge the pockets of all students. The amount of funds available in financial aid may be threatened as the Florida Legislature pushes to allow community colleges to draw from the same financial aid fund already divided among the 11 Florida state universities.

“It’s bad enough that 11 schools are going for that pot, but if the Legislature passes that bill it is going to become even smaller,” Diaz said.

Alongside Diaz at the inauguration will be Vice President-elect Zachary Johnson, a senior majoring in chemical engineering. Johnson said he’s focused on in-house services provided to students.

“We both agree that we want to continue to enhance student life, and that doesn’t necessarily mean a bunch of new programs,” he said. “We want to sincerely look at how we can strike up student life with existing programs. I spend a lot of time with Student Services, and I want to continue to make sure we deliver a strong product to students.”

At the inauguration, there will be a passing of the flag, said Student Government (SG) Senate President Jennifer Belmont.

“(It) is a ceremony between the outgoing student body president and vice president and the incoming student body president and vice president,” she said. “It symbolizes the closing of one term and the beginning of another term.”

The passing of the flag will precede speeches from the outgoing president and vice president and those by the incoming leadership, Belmont said.

The event begins with speeches by USF President Judy Genshaft and keynote speaker and football coach Skip Holtz. It will also include a passing of the gavel, where the graduating Belmont will ceremonially pass her SG Senate president role to new SG Senate President Khalid Hassouneh.

In the final Senate meeting of the 51st term Tuesday night, senators chose new executives for the 52nd term.

Belmont served her last term as Senate president because she’s graduating this semester. She said she served three years in Senate, two as its president.

“There’s a learning curve for everyone in regard to Senate,” she said. “Some people will slide right in, others will take longer. Either way, you’re going to enjoy it.”

Former Senate Pro Tempore Hassouneh ran unopposed as the new Senate president.

Hassouneh said he chose to run for Senate president because he was pro tempore for eight months.

“I think I can take the Senate and maintain leadership through next year,” he said. “I hope to lead them on the same track that they’re on right now and greater and better customer service with our students (and) with organizations.”

New Senate Pro Tempore Rachel Brown also ran unopposed.

Brown said her desire to run came from her love of organization.

“Pro Tempore is a very organizational position, and that is something I really love,” she said. “Something that can make or break an organization is really how organized you are, and that means getting the information out there.”