SG president-elect prepares for transition to office

President-elect Claire Mitchell (right) and vice president-elect Gustavo Spangher received 1,815 votes from all three campuses. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

A new era is about to begin at USF as sophomores Claire Mitchell and Gustavo Spangher were elected systemwide Student Government (SG) president and vice president for 2020-21. Their term starts at the conclusion of the spring semester.

The ticket received 1,815 votes from all three campuses — Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee.

Despite winning the election, chemistry student Mitchell and accounting major Spangher did not win the majority of votes at either St. Pete or Sarasota-Manatee. The majority came from Tampa students, with a total of 1,724.

When the results were announced Friday in the Marshall Student Center Senate Chamber, about 50 people began chanting “Go for G.O.L.D.,” referring to Mitchell and Spangher’s platform, which stands for growth, opportunity, loyalty and development. 

In an email to The Oracle, Director of SG Advising, Training and Operations Gary Manka said that the final results still need to be certified, which will occur after spring break once all grievances have been heard.

Some of their initiatives include an international student career fair, an increase in counseling services and a systemwide advisory task force.

In an interview with The Oracle, Mitchell said their first order of business will be to establish the systemwide task force as a way to bring equal representation to each campus. The task force would consist of representatives from each campus to represent students outside of SG.

“We want to make sure we’re hearing all the voices of our students, especially moving into this new consolidated system,” Mitchell said. “We have a platform and we’re passionate about our platform, but we understand that the needs of students are changing.

“We want to make sure that we’re flexible with that, making sure we’re listening to the students and, like, hearing their concerns as early as possible so that we can make sure that we’re prioritizing the needs of all students.”

As a way to connect with students and departments across all three campuses, Spangher said they are planning to start a listening tour before they take office and visit each campus, similar to what USF President Steven Currall did last fall.

“Getting to know the governors, I think that’s going to be huge,” Spangher said. “In the announcement, unfortunately, they didn’t really announce the governors for the other campuses.” 

The St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee governors were announced at their respective campuses.   

“We need to start creating those relationships, going to the other campuses, getting familiar with their services, with the people and students there,” Spangher said. “Whenever we start, we can start building the systemwide advisory task force.”

Sophomores Spencer McCloskey, majoring in business analytics and information systems, and Zach Blair-Andrews, majoring in political science, were elected to serve as governor and lieutenant governor for the Tampa campus. The ticket received 1,907 votes — 69 percent of the total votes.

At St. Pete, Andrea Rodriguez Campos, majoring in environmental science, and Isaiah Castle, majoring in history and politics, won with 67 percent of the votes.

At Sarasota-Manatee, junior biology majors Joshua Ghansiam and Melisa Escobar won uncontested.

After positions for the executive branch were announced, the available Senate seats for the upcoming term were revealed.

Each campus was granted five seats in the Senate. The remaining 45 seats were based on population percentage. 

With 44 seats reserved, 37 students were elected from the Tampa campus. St. Pete had nine seats and Sarasota-Manatee had seven. Both campuses elected six and four senators, respectively. 

With inauguration still a couple of months away, Mitchell said they will start planning the next steps before they officially take office.

“Since all the student body president and vice presidents are still in office, we’re, of course, going to respect that,” Mitchell said. “So we won’t be doing anything drastic until the inauguration.

“However, [we’re] planning those next steps, making sure we are the most prepared as possible to step into that role, making sure we start thinking through what executive orders we’re going to write and then how we’re going to want to have our staff structured across all campuses. [We’re] definitely reaching out to those governors who are newly elected and making those connections are going to be our first steps.”