Meet the candidates: Cesar Esmeraldi and Elizabeth Volmy
Student government (SG) presidential and vice presidential candidates juniors Cesar Esmeraldi and Elizabeth Volmy said they hope to represent every student as part of their platform, which they have dubbed “M.O.R.E.” for mental health, opportunities, rise in transportation and parking and empowerment.
Currently serving as senators in SG for the Tampa campus, Esmeraldi and Volmy said they came up with their goals and priorities by listening to students.
The mental health aspect of their platform is about making sure students are receiving that type of support, according to Volmy. She said it is imperative to push forward and to ensure students feel that they have resources in a timely manner.
This could come in the form of monthly mental health check-ins through email and showing students how to make use of resources by opening up lines of communication, according to Volmy.
Giving opportunities to all students, especially international students, is another focus of their platform, according to Volmy. The pair said they want to promote the resources available to international students after graduation, such as helping them with internships. Esmeraldi, who moved to the U.S. when he was 15 years old, said this is particularly important for him due to his strong ties with international students.
“The opportunities [are] obviously for all students, but we like to run our platform with a lot of diversity,” Esmeraldi said.
Hoping to remove stress students face while finding parking, Volmy said they have to keep pushing to make improvements with transportation, such as helping the Bull Runner run smoothly and showing students how to use it.
“A lot of students said, ‘Well, when I got on the bus, I was very confused, and I wasn’t sure where to go.’ So [this is about] making sure we’re getting those voices and finding those best possible options to help,” Volmy said.
The ticket would also push for cross-campus transportation, which is essential now due to the consolidation of the three campuses, according to Esmeraldi. Buses could be a possible answer, however, Esmeraldi said it would be hard to coordinate because they would be working with rough estimates of how many students would make use of the buses and how often the trips to each campus would be made.
Volmy said it could also come in the form of a rideshare program in which students could receive funding for gas by recording how many people rode with them.
Though it would be hard to organize, it is something that they would like to work on to make up a transportation system that works for OneUSF, they said.
“I’m well aware it’s very difficult and there are a lot of challenges in order to achieve it. But it is something that I find essential especially now we’re consolidated,” Esmeraldi said.
“It’s not something we’re going to be able to do right away and [it’ll be] perfect. It’s something that we will take step by step.”
Empowerment, the last aspect of the ticket’s acronym, refers to making all students feel heard and like they have a voice, Volmy said. Every individual deserves to feel empowered regardless of background, ethnicity or gender, she said.
“We want to be able to represent each and all students [and] be the people’s representatives. That’s our whole platform,” Esmeraldi said.
Communication between students will be a major aspect of how they can accomplish their platform, Volmy said. It is important to keep hearing from students and different organizations in order to understand what they need and how they can best help them from their positions, according to Volmy.
“Most of the stuff we can really achieve just by communicating better with the students. That’s one of the most important things and I’m gonna keep saying because it’s essential,” Esmeraldi said.
“And, I feel like [communication] can always be better. I talk to a lot of people from different backgrounds, different organizations and I ask them ‘What do you want from the student government?”
Volmy said improving the line of communication between advisors and students is also something they would like to tackle. A lot of students say that they are unaware of when they are going to graduate and are missing important classes, she said.
Because of this, it would be beneficial to institute monthly check-ins to ensure students are on the right path for graduation, according to Volmy.
Marketing for SG is essential so students can get involved and, if elected, they hope to expand on it by hiring a cabinet and increasing the amount of people currently working in marketing, according to Esmeraldi. Whether students would compose the cabinet was not clarified.
“We’re representing all the students, but at the same time, we feel like we could do such a better job of marketing ourselves and getting students involved,” Esmeraldi said. “Just like with the elections coming up as well, we want to have all people engaged.”
Students will often ask questions related to events that SG has already held, but many of them were not aware of it, Volmy said. SG has to inform students so they are aware of what resources are available to them on campus, she said.
When compared to their opponents, Esmeraldi said the pair represent the student body the best. They both reach out to different cultures and open lines of communication in order to unite all the students, according to Esmeraldi.
“Our whole goal is to have the backs of all internationals, all immigrants, as well as the American students of course, but to be able to integrate everyone in one single platform,” he said.
Esmeraldi said they have the most experience required for the job out of all the candidates, with both having served in multiple positions in SG including the Senate and campus council. Most importantly, however, he said they have the passion for representing students.
“We both understand the numbers and the budgeting that goes behind the government. We understand the procedures, the protocols and how everything works within the inside,” Esmeraldi said.
“We also have the network and the connections because getting there is difficult… and being able to achieve everything that we want is a challenge. If you don’t have the connections [and] if you don’t have all the drive and determination, it’s very difficult.”