As they prepare to begin their new role leading the St. Pete campus, Gov.-elect Sean Schrader and Lt. Gov.-elect Joshua Rampertab seek to pursue initiatives that will make their campus stand out post-consolidation.
With Schrader’s background in Student Government (SG) as a senator and Rampertab’s experience organizing events as president of Harborside Activities Board, USF St. Pete’s student engagement organization, the duo believes they are the perfect pair to help grow their campus along with the rest of the university.
Although Schrader and Rampertab had confidence in their ability to serve from the start, the pair had to convince the St. Pete student body that they were the best choice out of three gubernatorial tickets. All tickets were unsuccessful in winning a simple majority in the first election ending March 3, resulting in a runoff election on March 9 where Schrader and Rampertab prevailed against Nathan Poinsette with Kaiya Hugginser.
A critical change the pair wants to make once they take office at the end of the semester is to serve the student body instead of the student body serving SG, according to Schrader. Recently, Schrader has noticed some SG officials no longer aim to be a part of their community and intends to be a spokesperson for the campus.
“It’s really an honor to get to serve in this kind of role, knowing that students think that we’re equipped to help the decision-makers in the sight of USF,” he said. “[We need to be] approaching students, get out to them, not hoping they’ll come to our office.”
Getting students engaged on campus is just one piece of the puzzle to building a stronger community, according to Schrader. The team wants to highlight the campus’ location in downtown St. Petersburg by not only getting them active on campus, but also involved around the city.
As students’ semesters pile up with studying and other school work, Rampertab believes small events, such as gathering to go to the movie theater, will connect them with the community and make them feel more at home.
The consolidation process has taken a hit on the St. Pete campus’ identity, according to Rampertab. Although all USF students are now under the same banner, Rampertab said it’s important to preserve the campus’ uniqueness by hosting events that attract students and faculty from all over.
Despite being excited about the university’s future as OneUSF, Schrader believes it’s important to integrate more student input going forward to accomplish what’s best for all campuses. With their plans to be largely engaged with everything happening on campus, the duo believes they will be appropriate representatives to make sure their campus isn’t an afterthought.
“There had been assumptions about what’s best for USF St. Pete without really consulting with students and leadership,” Schrader said. “I’m excited for the future, I think there should be more of a focus on actually getting input and getting feedback from USF St. Pete before really making changes.”
Being involved with the community also means supporting the health of the community, according to Rampertab. Understanding this, Schrader and Rampertab aim to bolster green initiatives produced by the Student Green Energy Fund, a student-organized fund used to pursue environmentally friendly initiatives at the St. Pete campus.
Despite not having any specific plans to make the campus more ecofriendly, the pair believes their representation and student engagement will be enough to steer the funds in a positive direction. Rampertab said they will introduce task forces to gather student opinions and use their positions to mobilize the change they want to see.
“Obviously, there’s some issues that we can’t solve, like parking,” Rampertab said. “That’s one of our big implementations is just this task force made up of students. Then it’s easier to make those task forces when we shift that culture to ‘See, student government’s fun,’ and they come talk with us.”
Knowing Schrader and Rampertab personally, St. Pete SG Deputy Chief of Staff Yamaris Rodriguez is excited to see what the pair will accomplish during their term.
Schrader is not only an active leader in the St. Pete community, but is also an extremely thoughtful individual, according to Rodriguez. Having to spend late hours in the SG office daily, they are always checking up on how people are doing altogether, not just professionally.
“Usually I’m in the office very, very late,” she said. “[Schrader] just came by and he was like ‘Let’s go eat. Let’s go get you some food and then you can come back and I’ll stay up with you until you’re done doing whatever work you’re doing.’”
Considering a lot of the pair’s initiatives involve student engagement, Rodriguez is confident in their ability given Rampertab’s vibrant personality. Rodriguez said it’s hard to recall a time when Rampertab isn’t smiling. Talking to him for just a few minutes makes him feel like they’ve known each other their entire lives.
Although it’s going to be a busy year, Schrader and Rampertab are excited about the challenge and helping the St. Pete campus transform with the rest of the university. To boot, the pressure is already on as students have been approaching the pair with initiatives they want to see complete during their term, according to Rampertab.
“Student leaders kind of lead USF,” Rampertab said. “It’s important and it’s a positive because when there’s more student leaders, more students voice their opinions.”