Mentorships and driving under the influence among issues SGC-MMC candidates will tackle

Adrian Suarez Avila/ News Director

Stefan Bahad and Kristen Nyman, the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the FIUnite party met with Student Media last week to discuss their platform for this year’s Student Government Association at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus elections.

Established in 2012 with the help of various student leaders at the University, the party was created with the goal of leading a student-centered student government, according to Bahad.

Bahad and Nyman’s platform, titled, Innovate FIU, contains eight items, compared to that of their opponents, Alexis Calatayud and Tiffany Roman-Biffa, which contains five.

The items include a go green initiative, public safety and resources, leadership development, community outreach, student engagement, student mentorship and education, student involvement and an item focusing on a social issue.

According to both members of the FIUnite party, they wish to focus some of their energy advocating for issues that they believe didn’t receive much attention during the current administration of Calatayud and Roman-Biffa.

Although Bahad, a junior international business and finance major, believes that the University’s office of sustainability is doing a great job, he believes that tasks concerning environmental awareness can be taken a step forward.

One idea that Nyman suggested is creating fully online syllabi, all in an effort to avoid using paper. Bahad also brought up the topic of potentially offering fully electronic forms, which may expedite communication between University departments.

Both candidates made it clear that although they cannot promise to meet every single point on their platform, but they will work toward advocating actively for them.

“We don’t want to promise the moon and the stars because we can’t give it,” said Nyman, a junior political science and international relations major.

Both candidates spoke on the possibility of creating a go green fund, which has been previously housed at Florida State University. The plan is to have it exist as part of the Activity and Services fee budget that SGA has control over.

Providing mentorships with the help of alumni is also part of their plan.

Bahad provided the example of students in Greek and business organizations who have access to various connections, in contrast with students who may not be part of these organizations and don’t have access to the same resources.

Considering that the University has over 500,000 alumni, Bahad and Nyman want to make use of these individuals, with the potential help of the Alumni Association and other appropriate departments, to create a mentorship program between alumni and current students.

Rather than simply encourage alumni to donate to the University, Bahad and Nyman want to engage them with current students to potentially provide internships and other opportunities.

“We see it as a new way of donating to the University,” Nyman said.
Both candidates admitted that although their platform consists of eight items, it is not limited to just the eight listed.

One tenant of theirs is innovation, the notion of constantly coming up with something new for the University, and their current platform items serves as a guideline that will direct their efforts if they happen to be elected, according to Nyman.

Bahad commented on the name of his and Kristen’s party.

He mentioned that UNI serves as a play on words that can be interpreted as, You and I.

“I’d love to meet every student’s needs and talk to every single student, but it’s on you and I…to make sure we have the best student government,” he said.

Referring to a workshop event for their political party that took place earlier in the day, Nyman referred to an activity that required participants to write down something they felt should be changed in the University.

One participant suggested that something be done about the computers inside the Geographic Information Systems lab, as they always crash when students try opening programs.

Nyman said that these issues are ones that are directly affecting students, and issues that can only be addressed if SGA leaders take an active role in speaking with their constituents.

As part of their platform, Bahad and Nyman wish to draw attention to a social cause.

Their cause of choice: drinking and driving.

Both candidates commented that in several elections a lot of focus is placed on the concrete ideas that need solving, such as issues with parking or Wi-Fi, but not a lot of emphasis is placed on social issues.

Nyman commented that whether or not someone drinks, one is nonetheless affected by drinking and driving.

Some University students feel strongly about the issue.

“I think drinking and driving is stupid, plain and simple, as it puts your life and the passengers’ lives in danger,” said Felicia Puig, a junior communication arts major. “Sadly, people will still do it, even if they’ve been told not to do it.”

Bahad commented that by virtue of being in a university students will drink. Although he believes that he and others cannot stop students from drinking, he can nonetheless inform students about the issue and the different resources that they can take advantage of to stay out of harm.

Nyman and Bahad plan on taking non-traditional avenues to educate students on this particular issue, considering that both have seen various seminars and flyers on the issue and know what works and what doesn’t.

While both candidates are aware of the changes that are taking place in terms of how the University receives funding from the performance-based metrics model, they feel that they want to focus their efforts on ensuring that they work toward making the University meet the standards set by these metrics.

“We are not professionals in the education field, but it is our job as, what would be, student advocates to ensure that the provisions that are being put in place, which affect students, are looking out for their best interest,” Nyman said.

One of the other plans that both Bahad and Nyman have is an open-door policy that, in the case that they are elected, will allow students to enter their offices without first scheduling an appointment.

Both also want to make the presence of SGA felt on campus, considering that the general sentiment of students, as they put it, is that the student government representatives are only seen during election time.

Their plan is to have an SGA street team, which will walk throughout the University and personally speak to students about their ideas and the changes they wish to be made.

One issue, however, seems to be on the minds of several: University expansion.

Both agree that, keeping in mind how slow land procurement takes, at the moment the most they can do is continue supporting the effort to acquire the fairgrounds.

On Monday, March 30, a presidential and vice presidential debate between the candidates will take place at 5 p.m. A room has yet to be determined.

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