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A Senate president’s mission: Opening the doors to accessibility

Martinez’s main goals as Senate president are to be accessible to the student body and senators.
SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/SALUD MARTINEZ

With the responsibility of delegating $17 million in student fees to over 600 organizations and departments, you can say Salud Martinez has a busy year ahead of him as Senate president.

Although he has his responsibilities within Student Government (SG), Martinez’s overarching goal is to make SG more accessible to students.

“For a long time, SG has hidden out on the fourth floor of the [Marshall Student Center] and hasn’t made a huge connection with the student body,” Martinez said.

One way Martinez hopes to solve this issue is through livestreaming the Senate meetings.  Students can access the link to the livestream on the SG website, every Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Tampa students will be able to see how their Activity and Service fee — a flat fee of $7 per semester and $12 per credit hour — is distributed to student organizations, departments and programs behind the comfort of their own screens.

After the Marshall Student Center (MSC) started charging $50 per meeting for a service fee, the livestreaming ended last year. But, the program was able to resume as of a couple of weeks ago after SG worked it out with MSC Director Matt Marshall.

Alongside accessibility, Martinez has another initiative on his agenda this year — consolidation.

Last week, Martinez and SG leadership were able to successfully pass the consolidated SG constitution, which provided the outline to how Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee would become “One Student Government” by next summer. 

Martinez said he wanted to have “equitable representation” and “maintain the autonomy” of each campus.

“It would be irrational for me as a student in Tampa to go and tell Sarasota-Manatee what their campus issues are,” Martinez said.

Planning out the framework for the 60 senators across all three campuses was a concern Martinez said he had. But, he also wants to dedicate his term to building the morale of the senators on the Tampa campus.

Specifically, Martinez said he will do this by recognizing the feelings of each senator.

“If you let people know the impact of their work and validate how people feel, it just creates a way better work environment,” Martinez said. “I want the Senate to know that I am available to them with any concerns that they have. Whether that be one-on-one or bridging a gap between two departments on campus.”

Martinez unexpectedly stepped down from his position as pro tempore and took office after the former Senate president was removed this summer.

Funnily enough, Martinez said he never envisioned himself in this position.

“I never saw myself as being Senate president if I am being honest,” Martinez said. “When I came into SG as a senator I was very scared and overwhelmed because I didn’t know anything and that affected my confidence.”

However, after being the SG finance chair last year, Martinez said he was able to break out of his shell. 

“I am grateful that senators had the confidence to elect me and now that I am in this role, I have a sense of pride and an obligation now to this branch and SG as a whole.”

Through funding student organizations and departments, Martinez said he wants to provide students with fun programs to take their minds off of their professional lives.

Some of the events SG funds include Homecoming events, the Bullstock concert and Bulls Blitz, which transports students to home football games.

“Students pay so much money just to come to USF so from an SG perspective, we want to make sure that each person’s experience is the best that it can be,” Martinez said.

Martinez said he wants the student body to know that his door is open to them if they have any concerns or suggestions. 

“I want students to know that they can contact me through email, come to my office or through a phone call,” Martinez said. “That’s what I want to be taken from this experience. I am available whenever any students need me.”