Student body presidency: new dog, old tricks
As one student body president begins to wrap up his term, another is taking over the reins. After an eventful Student Government (SG) campaign season, Chris Griffin and Alec Waid were elected president- and vice president-elect.
Two grievances stood in the way of Griffin and Waid’s confirmation following a sizable victory against presidential hopefuls Mike Malanga and Nicole Hudson.
However, a trial Monday yielded no evidence to support an allegation that the pair had provided false information to Student Government Advising, Training and Operations (SGATO).
Then, Supervisor of Elections Carson Sadro said, SG Attorney General Richard LaMura filed a motion to dismiss a grievance regarding a mobile polling station, for which no evidence could be provided.
Ultimately, the two were confirmed Tuesday, and their swearing-in ceremony will take place in late April.
The transition into office will be a busy one, and current student body president Andy Rodriguez advised the newly elected pair to cherish what free time they have now.
“(They’ve got to) be ready to often be the first person in the office in the morning and the last one to leave at night,” he said. “But, (as for) advice: get mentally prepared, and enjoy your free time now, while you still have some of it.”
Griffin said he and Waid are already waist deep in work, with plans to begin fulfilling campaign promises. Among the first of their initiatives is a ticket office at the university that will provide students with discounted admission to attractions around Florida, including Disney World and University Studios Orlando.
“We’ve started working with Disney and Universal, trying to get them on board with our ticket center,” Griffin said. “We want to make sure that our students, when they’re not in school, that they have other avenues.”
But he emphasized that hiring an executive cabinet will be first priority.
“We want to make sure we’re hiring the best team. We’re going to make sure our students know these positions are there,” Griffin said. “Anybody who wants to can talk to us about it.”
Rodriguez also emphasized the importance of the cabinet during a president’s term. It’s hard, he said, to decide whom to hire from a pool of over 100 applicants and to make sure they have direction and incentive once hired.
“If I could do one thing differently, it would be to make sure the members of the cabinet are a little more invested in the smaller platform points we didn’t accomplish,” Rodriguez said.
With a staff in place, Griffin said he and his vice president will be able to get started with the largest tenets of their campaign platform.
“I think it all comes in and you’ve got to work on it, holistically,” Griffin said. “We’ve started meeting with parking, because that was a big thing we wanted to fix, so that will be one of the initial conversations. But I think there are other departments that need our help, too. It’ll really depend on the timelines of the people that we work with.”
As the year draws to a close, Rodriguez said he is glad he and his cabinet were able to accomplish most of the major elements of his campaign, but he wished they had been able to focus more on the finer details.
“There are things I think we could have done, but due to time, we’re not going to get finished,” Rodriguez said.
Although, Griffin is confident that with hiring out of the way, he and Waid will have a solid foundation for keeping the promises they’ve made to the student body and the university.
“It’s a hard job, it’s not going to be super easy; there’s going to be a lot of difficulties,” Griffin said. “But I don’t think there’s anything I’m anticipating right now will be too hard.”
As a public figure, the student body president is open to criticism from every angle, and Rodriguez warned of the scope of that criticism.
“(We are criticized) no matter what our decision is, no matter if we genuinely do what we believe is right, or we do what we think the student body would like the most, and it’s something they’re going to have to deal with,” he said. “And it’s something that people don’t really talk about.”
But ultimately, Rodriguez said the experience was “absolutely” worth it.
“As I end my term, I’m glad to have my life back, but I wouldn’t change anything. This was an amazing experience,” he said. “Not many people at this point in their lives get to supervise 26 employees and oversee an over a million budget and help in allocation of a $15 million budget the way that I’ve had to opportunity to.”
Once his term is completed, Rodriguez said he’s going back to life as a student, completing his degree and hopefully stepping into the working world at an engineering firm.
Meanwhile, Griffin is eager to get started.
“It’s pretty great to finally be able to get into action and get our jobs done,” Griffin said. “(I’m most excited about) getting to interact with our students as their peer, their representative.”