The voting for Student Government Association’s President and Vice President for the 2017-18 academic year had closed, with Nick Larkins and Cristina Barreto winning against Josh Boloña and Jad Shalhoub.
On March 29, the winners of the election were announced outside of the Student Union.
It was a defeat for Boloña and Shalhoub by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent with 11,346 total votes cast.
“I did feel like surely the heavens intended for us to win,” said Shalhoub, junior industrial engineering major.
Despite Boloña being a current SGA senator, he, along with his running mate Shalhoub, wanted to change the status quo in SGA.
The pair advocated for free women’s health products, pep rallies before football games to boost school spirit and town hall meetings to listen to student concerns.
“What Jad and I had experience in was exactly what we wanted to accomplish as president and vice president and that is advocacy for the student voice,” said Boloña, junior industrial engineering major. “We felt pretty confident that we are going to do things the right way.”
Boloña and Shalhoub’s platform also included holding the UCF administrators accountable for their actions while also remaining transparent to the public in their respective positions.
During a debate between the two pairs of candidates in the Student Union prior to the election, Shalhoub said they would speak with and question the UCF Police Department and their use of resources towards “bar raids” after 36 automobiles were broken into near the Lake Claire and Greek housing parking lots on campus last month.
“I think that it has gone for so long where the administration has never been challenged that students don’t really realize the magnitude of what could be done," Shalhoub said. "If we had a student leader that had the mental toughness and the voice to stand up to the administration."
As Greek Council President, Boloña saw Greek life challenged while overseeing 49 fraternity and sororities on campus in addition to being an SGA senator for the past two years. Standing up to challenge from UCF administration was something that Shalhoub did regularly as well, as the former president of Sigma Chi.
“I voted for Josh and Jad because of their willingness to stand up for what is right and to represent the students,” said Desi Shepard, senior human communications major. “They wanted to really make a mark in the right way.”
Ernie Svara, senior finance student said one of the reasons he voted for Boloña and Shalhoub was they actively listen to student complaints, most notably another squat rack at the Recreation and Wellness Center and the ability to wear “stringers” or tank tops with thin shoulder straps that in 2015 UCF officials deemed too revealing.
“Right now, there is some waiting during the course of a workout that can be very frustrating,” Svara said. “So to ensure that the wait for equipment would be alleviated really lets myself and the public know that Josh and Jad really wanted to listen to the public as a whole. They wanted to make a change. They wanted to create a campus impact."
Quan Nguyen, junior biomedical sciences major, said he voted for them because he felt resources towards the gym and other student centers was more attractive than restaurants currently being built on campus.
“They really had the backs of students,” Nguyen said.
One of the problems Shalhoub said he recognized with his campaign was their lack of signage on campus in comparison to their competitors. Due to the lack of student awareness through signage, Shalhoub said there could have been a psychological factor to people voting after seeing mostly signs from only one pair of candidates.
For Boloña, the issue of time was a constant point of stress. With his current role as an SGA senator and an internship, Boloña felt there just wasn’t enough time in a day to activate the campaign platform as much as they both would have liked.
Moving forward, the pair of Boloña and Shalhoub are going to remain active in SGA, with Boloña running for re-election as an SGA senator in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“I’ve been a senator for the past two years now, and I definitely see myself continuing to be in SGA,” Boloña said.
And for Shalhoub, his interest in the SGA senate has also peaked and he will be running for his first term in the fall as a senator.
“I am going to try to join the senate,” Shalhoub said. “I have already made that clear to the senate floor.”
If both Boloña and Shalhoub were to become SGA senators, they both stated their desire to make sure that the new president and vice president, Larkins and Barreto, are held accountable in a positive manner by working together to achieve the best result for students.
While the defeat may have been a disappointment for the pair, both look forward to continuing their involvement within UCF, working to serve the student and not their own interests.
“Positive thinking was in place the entire time,” Shalhoub said. "We were never worried about what the results were going to be. But, that doesn’t mean we weren’t driven at the same time - we were driven, by our purpose.”
Originally published April 11