Meet the candidates: Tony Tran and Rughved Brahman

Student body presidential and vice presidential candidates Tony Tran (left) and Rugvhed Brahman intend to unite USF’s campuses to collaboratively address shared student concerns and provide students increased accessibility to various campus resources. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

If elected as student body president and vice president, juniors Truong “Tony” Tran and Rughved Brahman intend to utilize their “UNITE” platform to directly address shared student needs and concerns across all campuses.

UNITE is composed of a series of five different initiatives to find collaborative solutions for bringing students together, both within academia and daily university life.

The first pillar, “U” — standing for “unification,” is intended to bring students together from each of USF’s campuses to develop a shared sense of community.

“We have spoken to students from other campuses and they would really like to visit the Tampa campus and so on,” Brahman said.

“They would like to see the greenery, the campus and I am sure that students from Tampa would like to see other campuses, [too]. We’d like to make that happen as well.”

The unification pillar of Tran and Brahman’s campaign is composed of a series of directives, such as hosting “Green Wednesdays” and cardboard boat races on campuses. They would also like to host semesterly campus reunions.

The pair also want to implement a Bulls Blitz transportation program that would shuttle students from the St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee campuses to Raymond James Stadium to make attending football games more accessible for all students.

Tran and Brahman aspire to develop a cohesive sense of community among students, in which students would be able to collectively share experiences while preserving individual traditions.

“There is a potential for improvement that I see right now [that] stems off of consolidation,” Tran said. “With all three campuses being about an hour apart, it just feels very disconnected still [despite] advertising that the campuses are ‘OneUSF.’

“We just think that if elected, we would be able to step up and be the liaison between the three [campuses] to make sure that everyone is able to work together while keeping the same integrity between their campus culture.”

The “N” in UNITE represents “navigation.” This pillar is dedicated solely to providing students with necessary academic and mental health resources for success following the transition back to in-person classes.
Examples of “navigation” initiatives the ticket hopes to undertake include encouraging professors to implement in-class lecture recordings for students that are not able to attend and adding “ready to eat” items to the pantry on campus.

“Hopefully we are on a decline with [COVID-19] and getting everything back to normal but at the same time, we need to set up protocols just in case something like this happens again,” Tran said.

Brahman said he and Tran understand student concerns over course scheduling following the removal of Schedule Planner and would like to find a viable alternative.

For many students, a simplified platform for course registration would aid in alleviating stress over not being able to find necessary classes for their major progression.

The pair also intend to directly connect with students through personally conducting wellness checks to promote a greater sense of trust and respect between the student body and leadership.

During the wellness checks, Tran said they would attempt to interact with students by handing out snacks and water while holding discussions about the students’ personal well-being.

“We want to be able to ask students how they are, how they feel about the school and how they feel about us without them feeling scared to approach us,” Tran said.

“We want to have friendly, casual conversation.”

The third pillar of the UNITE campaign, “I” — or “integration,” includes five different programs intended to promote more diversity and inclusion among students.

Examples of resources Tran and Brahman would like to provide as a part of the program include campus safety initiatives and international student fairs.

Another aspect of “integration” includes the implementation of free student meal vouchers, which would grant students single-use meal passes to use at a dining hall each semester.

If a student chooses to use their meal pass in a given semester, they would be required to wait for the next semester to receive a new one. For students that opt not to use the voucher, they could choose to save it for a future term or donate it to another person, according to Tran.

Brahman said the introduction of virtual student identification cards would also aid in reducing stress among students and make the process of accessing valuable student information more practical.

“Whenever I’m walking [to the campus library], I always see a line outside of Student
Services because students have lost their student IDs,” he said.

“Having a virtual card … is a great way to reduce plastic waste … and allow more convenience for students as they are less likely to lose their phones than their cards.”

To promote transparency in matters concerning allocation of funding and resources for the student body, Tran and Brahman also hope to produce biweekly Student Government (SG) recap videos after each meeting.

For those that are not aware or well-versed in SG proceedings, the duo anticipates that providing recaps of initiatives undertaken by SG during the week would aid in keeping students informed.

The fourth pillar of the ticket’s campaign is “transition,” which is intended to supply USF’s campuses with a set of comprehensive resources.

Examples of “transition” programs include solar-power charging stations and garage space indicators, parking initiatives and expanding on-campus dining options for students with dietary restrictions.

Brahman said the administration’s proposal to use solar energy on the Tampa campus is inspired by St. Pete’s use of solar panels on parking garages, which he hopes would set a standard for the use of environmentally friendly parking solutions on all campuses.

A major student concern the pair wants to address is the availability of parking spaces, especially with the influx of students returning to campus.

“We would like to create more parking spaces for more busy areas on campuses,” Tran said.

“We would work on reducing costs for parking and making [it] more green by allowing students that drive more energy-efficient cars … to have a lowered price in their parking costs.”

“Exploration” is the final pillar in Tran and Brahman’s UNITE platform. It represents a set of initiatives that promote long-term sustainable and affordable goals for future presidential terms to continue to implement, according to Brahman.

The “exploration” pillar of their campaign is composed of three primary objectives. The first is to introduce Wi-Fi-enabled intercampus transportation, which would give students the ability to complete assignments while traveling between campuses.

The duo also aims to improve student labs and housing as well as introduce student unions on all campuses. The last objective, or increased rideshare credits, would aim to make using transportation platforms more affordable for students.

Tran and Brahman expect that providing a mode of mass public transit between USF’s campuses would give students a more accessible form of transportation to travel to classes, free of charge.

The implementation of Wi-Fi-enabled intercampus transportation would allow students to complete assignments or important tasks on their commute, according to Tran.

In terms of the timeframe in which the “exploration” initiatives could be conducted, Tran cautioned that it would most likely be too difficult to achieve during a singular presidential administration.

Given the time and resources that would be required to execute the “exploration” programs, its objectives would stand as pillars to aspire toward for future USF students and SG administrations.

With Brahman being a former associate circuit court judge within SG’s legislative branch and Tran being the current finance chair for the federal legislative branch, the pair said they hope their respective experiences will enhance their ability to serve the student body.

“I would like to run for vice president because … I would like to expand my scope and use my insight [from SG] to brainstorm initiatives of what we can do to reform issues such as parking transportation on campus,” Brahman said.

“Being vice president would give me more outreach to different organizations, and mainly to students to hear their concerns. I would like to make that come into fruition.”

Tran said the preparation and dedication he and Brahman have invested into campaigning are qualities he hopes will reflect the passion the pair holds for serving USF’s student body.

“From a personal perspective, we would just like for every student within the USF system to know that we are always going to be there for you and that any concerns that you [have] should be brought up,” he said.

“Even though we might have our own ideas for certain … issues that might arise, we are going [to] put students’ concerns first, even if it’s working against our own personal interests.”