Engineering a legacy

Andy Rodriguez (center) was elected student president Friday with Mike Malanga (left) as vice president.ORACLE PHOTO/ALEX ROSENTHAL

Before the atrium of the Marshall Student Center rang with students chanting his name, Andy Rodriguez said he was nervous about Friday’s announcement of the 2015 student body election results.

“I was so nervous, I considered leaving the building,” Rodriguez said.

In addition to the campaign staff and members of his fraternity, Rodriguez thanked the 2,924 students who voted for him, appreciative of the large number of voters in this year’s election.

Rodriguez’s competitor, Sammy Hamed, received only 1,894 votes.

According to SG Supervisor of Elections John Quiroz, 5,037 students voted in this year’s election — about 100 more than in last year’s or any other election.

“It’s nice to see how many people came out in support,” Rodriguez said.


The newly elected student body president, Andy Rodriguez, has been a fraternity brother, a Student Government senate president and a USF ambassador, but his life did not start as a leader at the university. 

Raised in the Bronx, Rodriguez moved to Kissimmee at the age of 13, where he attended Celebration High School.

“I played football, I was a part of student government for a little while,” he said. “I was also part of the National Honors Society. I did three years of track and field.”

Rodriguez said his mother is his biggest influence. His mother had him as a teenager and still managed to complete a master’s degree at New York University.

“My mom’s awesome,” he said. “She’s my favorite person.”

Despite having grown up in a rough neighborhood, Rodriguez said he learned a sense of gratitude that will carry throughout his life.

“I’m really glad that I got to experience that, and that I know what that’s like,” he said. “I think I can appreciate my life now a lot more.”

He said his mother was his motivation for focusing on school and trying new things, such as running for president. 

Rodriguez said his passion for USF began during orientation and increased when he became an orientation team leader during his sophomore year. 

Rodriguez said his involvement on campus is thanks to his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon. He said several older members inspired him with their achievements and ambition.

Their achievements, however, played no part in his decision to major in chemical engineering. Rather, his natural proclivity for math and science are to blame. 

“I used to sleep in Algebra II,” he joked. “And I would still do very well.”

Later, in his high school chemistry class, he took a chemistry course and knew it was for him. While other students struggled with the subject, Rodriguez said he found a niche and excelled.

Rodriguez said he looks forward to the career options that will be available to him when he graduates with a degree in chemical engineering. Later, he wants to pursue a master’s in business. 

Politics in the meantime, he said, is a hobby he enjoys. 

“For whatever reason, I had always wanted to be an (SG) senator,” he said. “I had friends that were senators and I wanted to try it out and see what it was about.”

He joined senate as a junior and advanced quickly. After a single semester, he was advised to run for senate president.

Rodriguez decided to run with only two days until the election, and ended up winning.

Though he said he disliked the campaign process, Rodriguez expressed gratitude to the voters for making his efforts worthwhile. 

In the hopes of leaving a legacy at USF, Rodriguez pointed to reading days and a student foundation. 

Like the student foundation at Florida State University (FSU), students would fund the foundation. According to their website, FSU’s student foundation brings in about $300,000 every year and is entirely controlled by students. 

Unlike the money that comes from A&S fees, which is regulated by the state and the university, students who sit on a board of trustees would control where the foundation money goes.

With such a foundation, Rodriguez said, students could be able to build things like a movie theater and a bowling alley and make USF more appealing to students looking to live on campus. 

To add to the appeal of USF, Rodriguez also hopes to advocate for reading days, which are the days leading up to exam weeks, during which professors are not allowed to give tests. 

Overall, Rodriguez said he has high hopes for his term. He emphasized his desire to make USF as engaging for other students as it has been for him.


In contrast to last year’s election, which was marked by a slew of grievances, a runoff election, and a disputed winner, this year’s election ended with minimal grievances.

Before taking office, Rodriguez faces two minor violations of $50 that must be paid to SG within 10 business days due to a second campaign website that was unapproved by the Election Rules Commission (ERC).

Today at 4 p.m., the SG Supreme Court will discuss the only major violation, filed by the ERC against Saeed Sinan, a senatorial candidate for the College of Arts and Sciences, for allegedly having a mobile polling station and attempting to vote more than once.

A $20 minor violation was also assessed to each Girgis Fahmy, Mark Ghobrial and Danish Hasan — three newly elected senators from the College of Arts and Sciences — for unapproved campaign graphics.

When students return from spring break, there will be an expedited election for senators in the College of Business due to, according to Quiroz, input error on behalf of SG, which declared candidate Josh Smith under the wrong college, causing a dispute of roughly 200 votes over the first half of the first day of voting. This election will be between 19 candidates running for eight seats allocated for the Muma College of Business.