Election season is underway and three tickets will compete to represent USF’s three campuses as the next student body president and vice president. The tickets, consisting of Gustavo Spangher and Yovela Debesay, Jaida Abbas and Jennifer Kelly, and Julia Cunningham and Jillian Wilson, will be campaigning for the positions from Feb. 13 to March 11. Voting will then take place March 8-11 virtually.
With all candidates previously involved in SG, each ticket brings its own uniqueness to the table. Read more about each ticket below.
Jaida Abbas and Jennifer Kelly
As president and vice president, juniors Jaida Abbas and Jennifer Kelly want to help students “rise” above the various challenges the pandemic has created by using their experiences in Student Government (SG) as their guide.
The pair is running on the platform RISE, which is both an acronym and a wish for students to overcome the obstacles that the pandemic has presented, including tuition costs and virtual learning. The “R” stands for “respond to the disparities of the pandemic,” which, according to Abbas, reflects the flexibility of the duo.
“The biggest thing for [us] is the ability to adapt and stay vigilant of what the student body needs and not get complacent,” Abbas said. “We don’t see our platform as a checklist, but more a dynamic set of goals that can be altered and adopted to fit what the students need from us in the moment, because Student Government is meant to be a responsive and reactive organization.”
Gustavo Spangher and Yovela Debesay
Gustavo Spangher and Yovela Debesay’s partnership to campaign for the seats as student body president and vice president was an easy match to make when the two realized how much their visions aligned.
Debesay’s engagement as a current Student Government (SG) senator and her connections with the student body through various organization affiliations is what drew Spangher, current student body vice president, to reach out to her in hopes to see what a partnership between them would look like. After one conversation, the two seemed to be on the same page about what the role of SG is and how it could improve.
“What I think I had written before [regarding the platform], she said like 90% of the things that I already said there,” said Spangher. “So I was like wow. I was going to talk to more people, but after that 30-minute conversation that I had I was like, ‘I think I found the right person because we were on the same page on a lot of different things.’”
Julia Cunningham and Jillian Wilson
With the goal to connect students with Student Government (SG) and on-campus resources, juniors Julia Cunningham and Jillian Wilson hope to become a force for change as the next student body president and vice president.
One of their main goals lies in improving communication universitywide as a way to address some of the “legitimate issues currently facing the student body.” Cunningham said their initiatives will aim toward building “direct” communication channels between SG and university departments, including the Office of Multicultural Affairs, as well as with student organizations to better offer resources to students.
The main goal of Cunningham and Wilson’s campaign is to “connect on-campus resources with the students.”
“I think the biggest issue … goes back to a lack of communication,” Cunningham said. “We have all of these great departments, these great organizations, but the general student body is unaware that these resources and these departments exist. So I just don’t think there’s enough promoting, there’s not enough communication and I think even resources are lacking.”