When I first came to NSU, I wanted to get involved in something to broaden my college experience. One of the tables at the orientation organizational fair was the Undergraduate Student Government table, manned by its president at the time, Anthony Campenni. He told me about the open positions and how it all worked. It seemed pretty interesting, so I decided to interview for freshmen senator.
Unfortunately, I did not get that position. But I did accept a non-voting standards board spot. At that time, I would have never thought in a million years that I would ever be president -— of anything.
The starting point of this year’s student government began last year during the 2012 elections. It was my party, the Leaders Party, against the very formidable Fresh Perspective Party. Over 800 students voted, more than in any other previous election.
What I feel students got that day was not just a student senate and new president, but a brand new student government that worked extremely hard to get there and really wanted to do the job. I think that all of the extra hard work we all put in that week — including introducing ourselves to people, handing out stickers and hanging posters — proved to everyone that we would work hard for them. Without a doubt, we wrote the blueprint for future candidates on how to campaign and win in a contested election at NSU. If you remember last year at this time, you could not go anywhere on campus without seeing a campaign poster, chalk design or Leaders Party sticker.
Even though winning the 2012 election was such a paramount accomplishment, it was really only the beginning for me. I had set out many goals for my presidency. The first and, perhaps, most important was a commitment to financial responsibility. In the year prior to my election, for the first time ever, SGA had run out of money for organizations with several weeks left in the semester. Many students were upset and it was unfair in terms of the bigger picture that the major source of funding for student organizations had run dry. I vowed from day one that we would turn that around.
Today, not only are we operating with a budget surplus, but we’re also able to spend more money on certain things that really made the year better for undergrads. If there is one person to thank for that it would have to be our treasurer, Barbara “Ross” Rosso, literally the best treasurer SGA has had in recent memory.
Another major goal of mine coming into this year was to promote Shark pride and to promote ideas that would “collegify” the campus. Early in the year, SGA submitted a proposal to Vice President for Facilities Management Peter Witschen with many different ideas on how to do this. Street signs and naming of certain roads were part of that proposal, and we saw their implementation right away. Soon, NSU will also see the christening of the brand-new “spirit rock”, a giant boulder outside of the University Center, on which members of students organizations will be able to paint messages, announcements or anything else they please.
We began the year as an SGA by putting on Electric Waterworks, the biggest live music party the campus has ever seen, in August at the Library Quad. For the first time, we had a live DJ and glow sticks, along with water rides. Though it ended early because of lightning, many students told me that they think waterworks was the best event to ever happen at NSU. I really wanted to do something new with Waterworks this year and with the help of Campus Entertainment Director Brit Schemtob, we were able to far exceed our initial expectations.
Our other majorly successful event this year was the Homecoming Bash at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino’s Passion Nightclub. This was the last year SGA planned this event, as it’s been turned over to the Student Events and Activities Board. If you didn’t go, you missed an amazing night. That place was packed with over one thousand sharks having a good time on two floors and DJ Zog from Power 96 spinning. I’ve told Brit, personally, that she, without a doubt, planned the best homecoming bash this school has ever seen; SEA Board has their work cut out for them to top it.
Of all of our accomplishments, fixing the Wi-Fi problem was certainly our most successful campaign. That was a problem we took directly from the students and presented straight to President George Hanbury. It is a fact, verified by Vice President of Student Affairs Brad Williams, that this initiative became a priority of the university and that more was done faster thanks to student leadership. Wi-fi is absolutely necessary to college students and it feels good to know that we helped facilitate upgrading that system.
For all future presidents, I leave you with this bit of advice: you are captain of the ship that is student government. Whatever direction and vision you have is where the body will go, so be sure to be proactive. You are the sole person representing the entire undergraduate student body in just about every meeting you attend. Make sure you keep that in mind because your decisions and opinions represent a lot of people.
My advice to anyone who is interested in SGA would be to just go for it. Once your foot is in the door, anything is possible. I started out in the lowest position and was able to become the president. There is no “mold” for your typical SGA member anymore; it’s all about getting stuff done.
Looking back at all of it, I am very lucky to have had this opportunity. I can honestly look myself in the mirror and say that I did everything I could to do the best job possible. I hope I have set the bar very high and that the next group comes in and sets it even higher. I am thankful for all of the support from my friends, family and fellow students. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve you all.