FIYOU candidates elected as SGC-MMC president and vice president

Cayla Bush / Staff Writer

Student government starts and ends with advocating for students, said Alian Collazo and Michelle Juarez, the newly elected SGC-MMC president and vice president.

Thursday, April 21, Larry Lunsford, vice president of Student Affairs, announced the winners of the 2016-2017 SGC-MMC Elections to an anxious group of students, faculty and staff.

“It was a lot of emotions. It was, first of all, just a sigh of relief.” Collzao said. “You don’t know until they call your name if you won or not, and it’s something that builds up anxiety within yourself up to that moment.”

Juarez said she was happy, relieved and ecstatic for what’s to come during the upcoming year.

“I felt fulfilled, that our hard work had paid off,” she said.

“We have high expectations for the new SGA officers at both MMC and BBC. They represent their fellow students to the administration, and this is an important responsibility,” Lunsford wrote in a statement to Student Media. “They also have fiduciary oversight for over $16 million in student fees. We have an excellent working relation with both groups, and I look forward to an active and  productive year ahead.”
After an extended elections cycle, both Collazo and Juarez say they’re glad it’s over.

“Whatever the outcome would have been, I would’ve been glad it was just done. Because it was one of the longest elections in the time that I’ve been here,” Collazo, said.

FIYOU, which Collazo has been a member of since it was started two year ago and Juarez has served as an intern for, was voted into office over Access FIU, a new party created under Jose Sirven and Devondra Shaw.

“What we were trying to accomplish, and what I hope the other party will attempt to do, is to involve more student voices, more diverse voices in that process, to make sure that the needs of only a select group of students aren’t being advocated for,” Shaw said.

“We opened people’s minds. We shed light on and started conversations that hadn’t been started. I think people woke up,” Sirven said.

The SGA budget, which is over $18 million made of the Activity and Service fees students pay in tuition, was the largest misconception during the elections cycle Collazo and Juarez said.The two feel that Collazo’s experience as Speaker of the Senate coupled with Juarez’s experience as clerk of council prepared them to tackle explaining the budget to students.

“Right out of the gate, I think that it’s important, and myself and Michelle are going to start meeting up with student organizations and student organization leadership as well, to let them know and explain to them the Student Government budget, and how it works, and how it’s allocated. For them to know exactly all the details about it,” Collazo said.

“I think it’s letting students know how it’s used, and where the money goes so that no can come and tell them ‘Oh, we’re going to fund this, so that you can do this for free.’ They’re going to know, ‘Hey how are we going to do that for free if there’s no money for it?’ or ‘Why isn’t this being done if there’s money for it,” he said.

Free transportation to and from the Biscayne Bay Campus was the biggest topic of conversation during campaigns, Shaw said. It’s something she says and she Sirven pushed hard and did research and a lot of thinking for.

“It’s something that we had multiple conversations with administration about, and something that is possible, something that will be and is completely plausible — it’s not a lie. Is it unpopular for certain departments and certain individuals? Of course, because you’re talking about redirecting funding,” Shaw said.

Juarez, however, says this idea comes from common misconceptions that she and Collazo will be working to address.

“The growing community doesn’t really reflect on the budget,” Juarez said. “That’s always a challenge, but as for everything else, there are things we can change, tackle and overcome.”

This, they said, will be the hardest challenge they face in the upcoming year, but it’s not stopping them. During the campaigns, Collazo and Juarez, members of the FIYOU political party at MMC, made an emphasis on being visible and transparent in an effort to inform students of the role of student government.

“Coming in to this, Alian and I kept it very clear that we wanted to open that connection with the students that, for some reason, students felt were lacking. It’s understandable, because we know that student government can be a little intimidating as a concept, as a whole,” Juarez said. “Coming in we wanted to break down that stigma that we have and really be connected with our students. Like I’ve said a million times before, they’re the ones we’re doing this for.”


Photos provided by Cayla Bush

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