In the first half of their term, Student Government (SG) President Cesar Esmeraldi and Vice President Elizabeth Volmy said they have connected students to the university and planted seeds for new initiatives.
Esmeraldi and Volmy campaigned on mental health, opportunities, rise in transportation and parking and empowerment, or M.O.R.E. In the first five months leading SG, Esmeraldi said they’ve made steps in each area for the USF student body.
For the first pillar of their campaign,they have focused on marketing USF’s existing resources on social media, especially mental health assets like Timely Care, instead of creating new ones. Esmeraldi said the initiative – called the Herd Care campaign – is a way to bridge the gap between students and the university’s resources.
“We spoke to a lot of students through our campaign and realized a lot of students were unaware of what they already had in front of them on campus,” Volmy said. “I feel like we have a lot of great things already.”
Esmeraldi and Volmy also promised to advocate for transportation for USF students between the St. Pete, Sarasota-Manatee and Tampa campuses – a project SG has been supporting for years.
SG members are meeting with Parking and Transportation Services (PATS) and the Center for Urban Transportation Research to assess how often students would need the bus. They are looking at which days are students commuting between campuses the most.
Esmeraldi said they will likely not have enough data to support the addition until after the stadium is built in 2026. In his term, he will continue to push the initiative and the necessary research.
Esmeraldi and Volmy have prioritized their open-door policy to make SG accessible to the everyday students. SG recently released a student concerns form, available on its Instagram page, to allow students to inform Esmeraldi and Volmy of the changes they want to see.
All students will have the opportunity to voice their concerns directly to administration through a new council being developed by SG for next semester, Esmeraldi said. He said students will be able to apply to join the council.
“We want to be the bridge but we want to give a voice to more students. And I think this will be one huge way the international students will be able to speak too,” Esmeraldi said.
Instead of focusing on career fairs, Esmeraldi and Volmy have worked to inform USF’s international student population on how employment works and then connect them with the pre-existing career fairs by USF Career Services.
In October, SG produced a 16-page pamphlet about U.S. work visas and company sponsorships for international students, which are available at the SG office.
They also hosted immigration attorneys on campus for over 300 students to talk to at the International Workshop on Nov. 8. Students were able to get direct advice and guidance from immigration attorneys at the event.
SG will be planning a similar workshop in February, according to Esmeraldi.
While parking remains an issue for students on campus, the pair are looking for solutions for drivers within the university’s capabilities.
Volmy said they are planning to meet with PATS to increase awareness of USF’s current public transportation through social media videos.
“We’ve seen so many people get hurt. It’s insane,” Esmeraldi said. “So, we really are promoting the safety of our students through the collaborations we’re doing.”
He also said he hopes to promote scooters and other sustainable forms of transportation for students. Making scooter parking more accessible and safe should decrease the number of students driving to campus, according to Esmeraldi.
With five months left in their term, Esmeraldi and Volmy plan to finish their campaign initiatives and support the student body by addressing key concerns.
“Everything we wanted to start, we’ve started already,” Esmeraldi said. “So, now we just need to make sure we follow through with it.”