Meet the candidates
Claire Mitchell and Gustavo Spangher
Presidential campaigning for Claire Mitchell could be considered a déjà vu moment. However, for running mate Gustavo Spangher, it’s an entirely new playing field.
After former presidential candidate Yusuf Fattah withdrew from the election last week, the new ticket started the second week of campaigning by rebuilding their website and initiatives.
As a compromise, the two decided to create or keep initiatives that they were passionate about and would benefit a consolidated university.
Their new initiatives are outlined in their “Go for G.O.L.D.” platform, which stands for growth, opportunity, loyalty and development.
This meant other initiatives had to go, like advocating to remove the +/- system on a student’s GPA.
“There were so many amazing initiatives that I was working on with Yusuf that it was really hard to narrow it down to ones I felt strongly about, but we have a limited time in office so we don’t want to have anything on our platform that we can’t follow through on,” Mitchell said.
However, an initiative that the ticket believes is worth expanding is Bulls Country — a service that provides discounts to stores in the local area — so that it’s accessible universitywide.
For example, Spangher said Tampa-based restaurant discounts, such as Grain and Berry — located near Bruce B. Downs and Fowler Avenue — are only granted to Tampa students and not St. Pete or Sarasota-Manatee students.
The program over the years has struggled, considering it relaunched this year as well as in 2018.
But, Spangher does not believe upkeep will be an issue.
“Claire and I wouldn’t be able to do every single thing but with the help of the governors on each campus, we will be able to build partnerships with these local businesses,” Spangher said.
Even given the late campaign start, Spangher said this week has allowed him to catch up.
“The first two days were super stressful for me because I needed to catch up,” Spangher said. “I was watching consolidation and [Student Government] from afar so after I became involved with this, I really had to dig deep and do my research.”
Trevor Martindale and Darnell Henderson
As the only non-Tampa ticket running in this year’s presidential election, candidates Trevor Martindale and Darnell Henderson from the St. Pete campus advocate for accessibility and uniformity with their platform “4 All.”
With accessibility and uniformity leading their campaign, their platform incorporates four initiatives focused on specific issues across all three campuses, including student success, health, the environment and consolidation.
Under their “4 Consolidation” initiative, Martindale and Henderson plan on implementing a “trolley system” for students to travel to all three campuses — Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee — free of charge. The initiative would be based on a partnership with a bus company, consequently, leading to more campus resources accessibility, according to Martindale.
“So if we’re going to be one USF, we need to have resources available for the people who may not be able to afford cars have a cheap ride to each campus,” Martindale said. “If they’re going to be paying all these extra fees in the future, then they should be able to enjoy it regardless of wherever they are.”
In regard to Student Government (SG) elections, Martindale and Henderson want to work on reshaping the way campaigning works.
Martindale and Henderson plan to implement finance reform by imposing donation caps for presidential and gubernatorial elections. For presidential campaigns, the cap would be a max of $2,500 while gubernatorial and senatorial would be $1,500 and $500, respectively.
“We want people to not be intimidated and think it’s impossible to attain a position just because they don’t spend like thousands of dollars on their campaign,” Martindale said.
Although both candidates are from St. Pete, Henderson said they hope to create a united front to bring uniformity and accessibility to all three campuses, especially after consolidation going into effect on July 1.
“Coming from St. Pete, we are a smaller campus and Tampa is the majority, but I do believe that we should come together as a whole and be a united front together, making sure that all campuses have the resources other campuses have,” Henderson said.
Peter Radulovic and Thomas Knudsen
Student body presidential candidate Peter Radulovic and vice presidential candidate Thomas Knudsen are reaching out to students to make sure their voices are the driving force behind initiatives.
Core to their campaign is implementing an “advocacy council,” a group comprised of representatives chosen by Radulovic and Knudsen that can act on behalf of students and marginalized groups.
“The council would consist of people knowledgeable about internal university workings,” Radulovic said. “It’s not like you just go to Student Government and you can get things done, it’s like we’ll have people whose job is to personally figure out how to solve your problems.”
Knudsen, who was added to the ticket last Sunday, wants to focus on addressing the ongoing traffic issue on campus. A bus initiative was added once Knudsen joined the ticket.
“The absolute main thing that I care about is the bus system and how awful it is at the current moment,” Knudsen said.
He said his plan is to introduce “smarter bus routes.”
“Have you looked at the bus map? It doesn’t make any sense. I’m sure someone tried to think through it, but it doesn’t work at all.”
While buses on campus are a concern for the vice presidential candidate, the presidential candidate is looking at the public transportation systemwide.
“We came up with this intercampus transit exchange system,” Radulovic said. “Essentially, what we’ll have is something like a twice-daily charter bus system that goes around to each campus, one in the morning and one in the evening.”
The initiative would run through partnerships with USF to supply the buses and operations.
Another way they hope to connect with students is by implementing an “engineering commission,” which is a program dedicated to funding ideas students have to fixing issues on campus.
Funded by part of the existing tech fee students pay per credit hour, Knudsen, a third-year engineering student, proposes block funding, which is allocated funding for specific programs, to entice students’ creativity and innovation on campus.
“[We’d] ask the students how they would like these issues solved, and if you come up with a solution, propose it,” said Knudsen. “If we like it, they can get compensation and build on their portfolios.”
Kuchari and Hyelampa Thlala Kolo
For presidential and vice presidential candidates Kuchari and Hyelampa Thlala Kolo, sharing family and status as international students is what sets their campaign apart from the others.
“We’ve experienced different types of places, so we have a different leadership mentality,” said Hyelampa, referring to growing up in Nigeria.
The campaign has six goals on their platform. Some of these goals stand out from the rest of their platform as well as the other candidates including subsidizing housing, expanding Bulls Media and building a center to house Tedx talks for USF students.
“The price of housing is skyrocketing,” said Kuchari. “As student government, we should be able to cut a due or subsidize housing for students on all campuses.”
There is also talk by their campaign to create a “USF Tedx Center.”
“We want students to come together and show how brilliant we are at USF,” said Hyelampa.
They also want to expand Bulls Media so that it is accessible to all three of USF’s campuses — Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee — and elevate it as a medium for students to express themselves.
They want students to be comfortable calling in to discuss concerns and promote events they are involved in on their respective campuses.
The other goals of their campaign include addressing parking issues, maintaining what each campus’s Student Government (SG) has previously set forth and rewarding the leaders of student organizations for their work.
With all of these goals, the Kolo siblings have kept consolidation in mind. They intend to be inclusive of USF’s three campuses.
“I want to make sure that the campuses with the smaller population [Sarasota-Manatee and St. Pete] aren’t being starved,” said Kuchari.