Meet the candidates: Alexa Matos and Rithvik Lee Pack

Sophomores Alexa Matos and Rithvik Lee Pack are running on the platform R.I.S.E., which stands for reach, inclusivity, sustainability and engagement. ORACLE PHOTO/DELANEY TORRES

Sophomores Alexa Matos and Rithvik Lee Pack, Student Government (SG) presidential and vice presidential (VP) candidates, said their platform R.I.S.E. is an acronym for reach, inclusivity, sustainability and engagement.

The acronym was created when Matos was running as VP with a different person. After realizing they weren’t a good match and that no other women were running for president, she decided to pursue the position herself.

“I thought we needed some girl power up in there, so that was one of the inspirations that made me do it,” Matos said.

Related: Here’s the competition for this year’s USF SG election – The Oracle

One of Pack’s close friends was in a class with Matos. Matos spoke about her interest in running for president and the need for a running mate. 

“My friend recommended me and said I’d be a good fit. So we had some discussions, and I ended up accepting it,” Pack said. “I think I made a great decision, and I can’t see myself in any other position.”

Matos said on the same night she broke off from her previous ticket, she signed the papers to run with Pack. She said she wouldn’t have found somebody to take on as her VP that quickly if it wasn’t meant to be.

Matos said she needed a VP who balanced her characteristics as a student. She lives off campus, is an in-state student and a humanities major. Pack lives on campus, is an international student and a STEM major. 

“We’re very different, but that allows us to have perspectives and understandings of what a lot of students at USF go through in their day-to-day,” Matos said.

Related: Inclusivity, sustainability among topics discussed at USF SG presidential debate – The Oracle

As a gay international student from Trinidad and Tobago, Pack said he was excited to get into politics in a Florida school because promoting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is important to him. 

“People like me are not often represented, especially in situations of high power and in a U.S. public institution,” Pack said. “I think if we are lucky enough to be elected, it would be an amazing opportunity to represent people.”

Related: DEI’s future at USF: The question on everyone’s mind

The candidates said they were both raised by single moms and see them as inspirations for hard work. Pack said he’s at USF because his mom worked hard to pay for him to go here, he said.

Students should be grateful to be at USF because going to college isn’t a right, Matos said. Having access to higher education is a privilege that not many people are able to get, she said.

Pack said taking advantage of every single opportunity during college helps people make connections and create an entirely new environment for themselves.

“If I hadn’t joined Greek Life or Ambassadors, met my friend and talked to Alexa, I wouldn’t be running for student body vice president right now,” Pack said.

Related: PHOTOS: Goals shared by USF Student Government presidential candidates at event – The Oracle

The student body hasn’t had enough positive reinforcement, Matos said. One of her goals is to bring positive affirmations into how SG and its leaders are viewed.

“Neither of us is saying USF is perfect, there’s always room for improvement,” Matos said. “Just don’t be caught up in the negative – embrace this experience instead.”

Related: Meet the candidates: Connor Avila and Tianyi Li Bueso

Pack said it’s important to remember SG is a government that serves students. Regardless of who wins the election, students should always let the president and vice president know when they want something so the officials can try to get it done, he said.

Matos said she feels like a lot of times people want these positions for their resumes. Matos and Pack, however, said they want to do their best for the student body and put students first. 

“We want to do this because we want to bring positivity and good vibes to the university,” Matos said. “It’s not about us, it’s all about the students.”

This article is part of a series featuring the Student Government presidential candidates. Stay tuned to hear about the other tickets’ platforms on Thursday.