First look at Schneider-Dougherty Administration

Emily Echevarria, Government Reporter

Ally Schneider and Kayla Dougherty, SG President and Vice President.

After a round of uncontested spring elections, it was announced that Ally Schneider and Kayla Dougherty would be the acclimated President and Vice President of the Student Body. The duo was deemed by the Forward Party to be its “most experienced ticket ever.” Who are they, and what plans do they have for UNF?

Schneider, currently serving as the Chief of Staff in the Aloszka-Costello administration, was elected to a senatorial position in the spring of 2018 and briefly served as the chairwoman of the University and Student Affairs Committee. 

Dougherty was elected to the Senate in the fall of 2017 and is currently the chairwoman of the University and Student Affairs Committee. Both women attribute their time on the committee as an influence on their philosophy for Student Government. 

“Because we’ve both been USA chair, I think our view of what Student Government should be is extremely student-centered. It’s not supposed to be a self-serving organization. It’s not supposed to be a resume builder,” said Schneider. “It’s kind of the most powerful tool students have to advocate for themselves.”

“Within Student Government, it is probably the most direct way to communicate with the students,” commented Dougherty.  The USA Committee drafts Osprey Voice and Roundtable surveys throughout the semester to gauge student opinion on different campus-related issues, like campus preachers and parking.

When Schneider and Dougherty first learned the results of their campaign, they were shocked. 

“We didn’t believe it,” said Dougherty. “It still doesn’t always feel real.”

Their reaction, though, was a mixed bag of excitement and disappointment. They ran unopposed for office, and the senatorial elections were uncontested for the 4th semester in a row. 

“We’re definitely disappointed,” Schneider said about the lack of participation in the elections. “I think that it’s not 100% the responsibility of the parties to make sure an election is contested, and we’ve had a lot of problems with the Office of Elections in the past maybe not being quite up to par with what we need them to do.” 

“I think that’s a big issue and it’s something we’re absolutely going to focus on in our administration,” she continued. “What type of structural change can we enact that’s going to make sure that this never happens again? But we were also disappointed that the other party didn’t run a presidential ticket, because it’s important to give student choices in who’s governing them.”

16 of the senatorial candidates came from the Forward party, while only 2 came from the PINK party. PINK did not run a presidential ticket. 

“I think it’s just sad because we’re supposed to be a representative body,” commented Dougherty.

Schneider and Dougherty will be focusing on changes to the Office of Elections this summer during a Constitutional Convention. This event allows Student Government to edit the constitution and make structural changes to how the organization operates. 

“I don’t want to say exactly what yet… we’re still teasing out all the detail and stuff, but I would say there’s definitely going to be an attempt on our part to restructure the way that the Office of Elections works because it’s now been two years that it hasn’t really been working,” said Dougherty. 

Outside of changes to the elections process, Schneider and Dougherty have 3 umbrellas for initiatives they’d like to complete. 

“The first is campus safety,” said Schneider. This includes increasing lighting on campus, repairing blue lights, and continuing to address campus preachers. 

“I did a safety survey as USA chair last semester,” said Dougherty. Based on the results, Dougherty wants to focus on more lighting in Lots 14 and 18. There were also reported issues with existing blue lights. 

“We’ve heard from multiple students that they don’t work or they just look broken,” Dougherty commented.

During her time in the Senate, Dougherty created a JR on campus preachers, which was approved by the Senate in the fall. “We’re always going to be addressing the campus preachers,” said Dougherty.

Their second umbrella of initiatives focuses on access to resources. 

“One of the big things that we want to do there is put Lend-a-Wings satellites in housing areas because Lend-a-Wings is open during business hours during the week and we have, I think, 1,700 students living on campus and they’re here over the weekend, they’re here at night, and we want them to have access to food 24/7,” said Schneider. Under President Aloszka’s administration, Lend-a-Wings was relocated from Hicks Hall to the Student Union in an effort to make it more accessible for students. 

Other projects will include giving every student 25 free pages of printing at the library and attempting to get Uber and Lyft discount codes, though Schneider acknowledges that this might be difficult. 

“I can’t say (the project) will be done in the next year because it’s a lot,” she said. “A lot of other schools do that and I think that it’s important to keep students safe, especially if you’re not allowed to drink on campus. Drinking is still happening and we need to make sure that students are not drinking and driving.”

The third umbrella of initiatives: culture. 

“We want to make sure that orientation is super student centered, that people are engaged by it. We’ve heard a lot of stuff about how it’s super lecture heavy, it can be boring on the second day and we don’t want people to have that be their first look at UNF,” said Schneider. “We want UNF to be exciting and engaging.” 

The duo will also focus on re-vamping Party in the Plaza. 

“I remember driving by Party in the Plaza and not seeing a lot of students there. We don’t think that it replaced tailgates. I don’t think it did what it was meant to do,” said Dougherty. 

“It all kind of goes back to do people feel at home here? Do people feel like they have a place here? Do people feel engaged by campus and by the community?” asked Schneider. 

Culture is a priority for Schneider and Dougherty, who discussed not only the culture of UNF students, but also of Student Government itself. 

“Throughout my time as Chief of Staff, I think the thing that I’m most proud of is I have tried my best to do what I can to change the culture of Student Government a little bit, because I think that one of the most important things, at least internally, is to support each other, support the senators.”

They also discussed how Student Government has changed since they first got involved. Dougherty remarked that, “it’s going forward and being more open.”

“One of the things that Forward has brought to Student Government is some consistency,” remarked Schneider. “Neither Jenna (Dupilka) nor John (Aloszka) have quit halfway through their terms. We haven’t had a ton of turnover in the Cabinets, Legislative, or Executive.”

“I want to continue to  create an environment where it’s not cutthroat. We’re not competing against each other. We’re working together to advance students’ interests because that’s what we’re supposed to do.  That’s what we’re elected to do,” she continued. 

As Chief of Staff, Schneider has worked closely with President John Aloszka and the Executive branch, contributing to the recent study spaces initiative. Aloszka and Schneider worked to redesign study rooms in the Student Union with new furniture and lighting. 

Schneider remarked what she has learned from Aloszka over the past year, stating, “One thing that I’ve learned from John is how to be steadfast and trust in yourself because he’s a really confident person. When he makes a decision, he sticks to it, and that’s something I admire about him.”

“Anything that doesn’t get tied up right at the end of their administration, I’d like to finish. It’s not a good look for Forward and it’s not a good look for SG to leave people hanging and to promise things and not follow through on them,” she continued. 

What will Dougherty carry forward from Costello? “She’s so easy to talk to, and she’s so nice, and so I think that’s definitely something that will be kind of continued and something I’ll definitely always remember… but that’s the kind of role I plan to step into,” she remarked. 

While the duo discussed their disappointment with the uncontested election, they did note that finding out the results earlier gives them more time to prepare for their next year. Currently, they are reading through the constitution and titles in order to prepare for the upcoming Constitutional Convention. 

It also gives them a chance to reflect on who they are as leaders and the roles they want to take on. 

“We want to make ourselves available… we’re very normal students,” said Schneider. She is studying political science and sociology, while Dougherty is studying political science and philosophy. “(Student Government) is by students, for students, and we should make that very clear in the way that we interact with students.” 

What does Schneider think is the biggest problem facing students? “I guess apathy is the thing that we always say, but I think a lot of the time there’s root causes of apathy that the university can’t directly address,” she said. “Things like stagnant wages, housing affordability… the high cost of education in general….. I think that students feel a lot of uncertainty during their time at UNF.”

“You want to make a student’s time here great and you want them to remember it, but how are they going to be successful after college?” commented Dougherty. 

That being said, the duo did recognize the need to address apathy. 

“I think apathy is always going to be an issue, and I think that it’s not only an issue in Student Government with not having enough people to run or not creating new parties and things, but it’s an issue obviously in the larger UNF landscape,” said Schneider. “How can we make sure that students know that we care about them and care about their wellbeing in a very real sense? Because we’ve both been freshmen, we’ve both felt lost and felt like we’re only here to get our degree and then leave, and how do you make sure that students don’t feel like that?”

Schneider and Dougherty take office on April 3rd. 

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].