Student Body Vice President Mike Saathoff has announced his candidacy for Student Body President. He is running with Club Alliance Assistant Director Brandon Alanis on the United Ospreys Party ticket. Saathoff and Alanis sat down with the Spinnaker for a question and answer session.
Why are you running for Student Body president and Vice President?
S- “There are a lot of things I want to see happen within Student Government, and that first starts with making sure we are bringing everything the students are saying and really start pushing the students’ agenda.”
What is your biggest issue on your platform?
S – “We had a parking forum that I attended … at this forum a young lady said ‘I cried in my car because I cannot park. I paid $160 to park, why can’t I park.’ That’s a problem.”
What party are you running with and what are some of the ideals?
S – “Being in [Student Government] for three years now … this whole party thing has developed into something that I just do not like. Every single time … I am always reiterating the party thing is all well and good and that is fine that you are with people that think like you, and I don’t mind that, but what I do mind is when you are sitting here making decisions because you’re concerned that somebody is not going to want you on their party or that you are making decisions that absolutely are not [reflective] on the student body.”
S – “You have to think, not just for yourself, but think for the students you represent, because there is 16,000 people out there who have issues and who are real people.”
A – “We’re getting down to the nitty gritty because for Mike and I, it’s go time. We are getting away from color [parties]. United Ospreys Party is what we will be running with. We will be empowering all and will be bringing the ‘student’ back to ‘student government.’ And our theme is transparency. There is no more room for backdoor politics. ”
A – “The Red Party is viewed as the big powerhouse, and we get the question a lot, and Mike gets it every day of why he isn’t the Red Party candidate, and that is a personal choice to go out and to seek something else and something newer and something bigger and better.”
How do you expect to work with the Red Party in a two-party system?
S – “We’re here for the students, and I think a lot of that is going to be having to take on the executive branch and say we are pushing [this] forth and we are getting this out and making the government more open.”
S – “Just like Senators can see bills ahead of time, students should be able to see those bills ahead of time, as well.”
How do you plan to run against a friend and a current co-worker?
S – “We get stuck on the whole party thing, but it’s really visions that are set forth. And the vision that [Brandon and I] are seeking is one that [will] incorporate all the students and everybody who feels that they are left out. Everybody who sits there and goes ‘SG, what have they done for me?’”
What do you see the role of the Vice President being if you are elected?
A- “The role of the office is going to change. [Mike and I] are going to stand arm-in-arm united, I’m not going to be just supporting him and holding him up from his big office and me next door, the door will be open and there will be clear communications and equal decisions.”
What are some of the things you would like to see the Board of Trustees do?
S – “I think we definitely need to look at our tuition [rates] again. [If we are going to increase tuition 15 percent every year], and I’ve done the math and when I saw the math, I was like ‘no, no, no, no, no.’ What made us so great was how affordable it is and in a pressing economy that we’re in now, now you want to raise it? But if we do raise the tuition fees … let’s please make sure that we’re backing [it] up with professors, and I don’t mean adjuncts, I mean tenured professors so that we can go to their office and have one-on-one relationships with them. ”
Student Government Chief of Staff Tom Blanchard has announced his candidacy for Student Body President. He is running with Sen. Laura McGregor on the Red Party ticket. The election will be held on March 30 and March 31. Blanchard and McGregor sat down with the Spinnaker for a question and answer session.
Who are you looking for to run on your ticket?
B – “We sit down personally with everyone who shows interest to run for Senate and meet with them to discuss why they want to run for Senate and why they want to get involved in Student Government, what plans they have and really what we do look for is people who have showed leadership around campus, whether it be in campus clubs or different Greek organizations or athletics, and we really want to find a diverse crowd from all around campus.”
B – “[We] want the whole student body [to be] heard, we don’t want it to be from one part of campus. We don’t want just athletics’ voice to be heard or just clubs’ voices to be heard or just Greeks’ voice to be heard for that matter. We want everybody’s voice to be heard.”
Do you see the recent increase in Activity and Service fees being a long-term trend?
B – “I don’t believe another increase will be necessary in the next year. If we get elected, that is not something that we would pursue. I believe for right now, we need to learn to improve upon the budget that we have because I feel that we can use that money to better benefit the students.”
M- “I don’t think we should promise that we are not going to raise the [fees] or that we are going to lower it. But we will absolutely try to work with what we have. Why have people pay more money when it’s not necessary? But, as UNF is growing and expanding and becoming a better university every year … the things that they had to increase were necessary. They got new counselors and did things to make the university better as a whole.”
How do you feel about the wait list for the UNF Counseling Center?
M – “When you pay your tuition, I know part of your tuition does go to the counseling [center] which should be open to everybody if they ever wanted to speak with anybody. It is unfortunate that there is a wait list because there are students out there I know who are in need of help or in need of someone to talk to, and the only place they really have is the counseling center … which is an issue that should be addressed.”
What are some of your criticisms of SG, and how can it improve?
B – “One thing that I think needs to improve that SG hasn’t done to the best of [its] ability thus far is making sure that we are the voice of the majority. I feel that a lot of times SG can become the voice of those that are involved and that is why we want to make student surveys, [which] will make it more open for students to share their opinions and see what the majority of the student body desires on campus.”
“It is a little step, but it has a huge result. We sit on university wide committees all around campus, and it’s very important that when we sit down and speak we are being the voice for the students not just for SG.”
What do you tell the student who doesn’t really care about SG?
B – “There is a $3.4 million budget that comes from every student’s tuition money, and it’s SG’s job to make sure that those dollars that come directly from student tuition are used to the best of their ability. But it’s not only the budget it’s the influence we have with the administrators around campus. We hear different problems around campus or with parking or things they want to improve with athletics or the counseling center [but] these are all things we can overcome if we have the support of the student body, but without people getting encouraged to vote and wanting to come out in support, there is not much SG can do.”
M – “[Students] might not think that they care now, but when they’re in grad school or when their club needs funding to go to an event, it is the Senate who they go to ask for money or help and that is our purpose is to be there for students.”
How do you plan on engaging the student body and getting them involved in SG?
B – “We would like to create opportunities for students to be appointed to sit on universitywide committees that they feel strongly about, maybe students who aren’t necessarily directly involved in Student Government now could be appointed to sit on those committees and voice their opinions. That’s something we’d like to see done.”