Written by: Mathew Messa/ Staff Writer
University student-led political parties, PantherUp and Future Is You, start fresh in this year’s Student Government Association elections.
This is the first year the PantherUp party participates in an election. The party’s focus for their first year is to improve the learning experience for FIU engineering students by improving classrooms in the Engineering Center and Modesto Maidique Campus’s Parking Garage 6.
PantherUp will work to gain funding to buy new whiteboards, monitors, cables and desktops at EC and PG-6, according to Elizabeth Alume, PantherUp president and founding member. According to Alume, some of the monitors in the coding labs in EC and PG-6 are broken or outdated.
Alume is the only party member running for a position in the senate for this election year.
“I really just wanted to get involved and I wanted to do more to impact our community,” said Alume.
After attending a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13 where other engineering students voiced their concerns about EC, she pointed her attention towards the research labs in EC.
“[The students] want a 24-hour lab because as engineering students, we’re constantly working on projects in those labs. When I saw that as a problem, I realized that it was definitely an initiative that I needed to take,” said Alume.
Alume also wants to take into account other suggestions made by EC students at the town hall event, such as more dining options and extra parking at EC, which she is also looking into.
PantherUp has a relatively small membership consisting of just Alume along with her Campaign Manager Jai Jethani and Treasurer Carlos Neira, neither of whom are running for senate positions. Alume told Student Media that this election cycle was more focused on laying the groundwork for future party members.
“We started off really small because we wanted to make sure that we can organize things like templates and marketing so that next year’s members don’t have to worry about all that, and they have a better chance of succeeding,” said Alume.
Similarly, The Future is You party is also a new contender in this year’s SGA elections.
“As cheesy as it may sound, the heart behind the name of the party really is that the future is you! It’s about electing the right leaders that will make their time in SGA about you as the student,” said Sabrina Rosell, Future is You party leader and current president of the Student Government Council at MMC.
The first goal on the party’s platform is “building University affinity” by way of increased support for the University’s student groups and athletic events, according to Rosell.
Rosell said that the reason behind this goal is that many student organizations may have a difficult time reaching out to student athletes because of their busy schedules. She hopes that bridging the gap between student organizations and athletes will increase attendance at University sporting events.
“When you go to a game, that’s when you’re the proudest to be a Panther, whether it’s football, baseball, basketball, or any sport,” said Rosell. “ It doesn’t matter where you’re from, you’re there as an FIU Panther, and I really value that experience because it provides a sense of community and that circles back to the idea of University affinity.”
The party also plans to increase the number of stops for the Panther Mover. Rosell is currently working with the Department of Parking and Transportation to find out exactly which stops students would like to see.
Rosell also said that the party is advocating for longer dining hours in highly concentrated areas on campus. She said that housing students had specifically brought this to the party’s attention, since some of them do not own vehicles and cannot travel off campus to eat late at night.
Last SGA election year, Rosell ran as Vice President under the political party FIYOU, alongside former SGC-MMC president Jose Sirven. However, Sirven resigned as president shortly after Student Media reported on a contract that he signed in secret with other party leaders that guaranteed SGC-MMC positions if only his party ran.
Rosell cites this controversy as one of the reasons for starting a new political party, promising full transparency to students.
“I think that the [previous party, FIYOU] has a negative association in the eyes of our students. I want to make sure that our students are assured of the fact that this new party introduces a new level of transparency,” said Rosell.
As SGC-MMC President, Rosell told Student Media that she gets excited when new and more people are running for an SGA position, which is why she is looking forward for her party members to be running against PantherUP members.
Rosell said that no matter what the outcome of the election is, every candidate represents FIU.