Student Government President and Vice President candidates, Joshua Bolona and Jad Shalhoub, released their platform Wednesday night to a crowd of supporters at CaddyShank's sports pub.
The platform, which spans a wide variety of campus issues, included improving the Student Government Association itself as an early focus.
"Jad and I know that student government has only scratched the surface on the student experience that we could bring to them," Bolona said. "The main way to change that is to hear students out."
In their speech, Bolona and Shalhoub promised to improve SGA's transparency by holding monthly town hall meetings, posting summaries of Board of Trustees meetings on the SGA website and expanding the purview of the judicial branch by having them handle more of the low-level student conduct cases that are currently handled by the Office of Student Conduct.
They also plan to fill the various empty seats in the legislative and judicial branches.
Parking issues were also addressed. Bolona spoke of a plan to alleviate parking problems by changing how the parking decal system works, intending to get more students to park in currently underused lots in order to reduce the number of people competing for spots in the most popular parking garages.
Students in campus housing like Northview and Lake Claire would need to use the parking spots by their housing. Freshmen commuting from off campus would be required to park in less used lots on the outside of Gemini Circle. A plan for SGA to save up money for additional cameras in the parking garages was also put forth.
"SGA is an organization that has a lot of power, it budgets with 18.2 million dollars and it could go to a multitude of different places," Shalhoub said. "We want to utilize our power to our best ability and take it to the next level by communicating with the students and I feel like if students felt they knew what was going on, they would take more pride in the school."
Other proposed changes include creating and implementing a unique set of guidelines for Greek RSOs and housing, expanding Green Dot Bystander Intervention Training to all RSOs, finishing the process needed to get lighting installed at off-campus Greek housing, increasing awareness of Mental Health Services among the student body, advocating for an expansion of free STD testing and free woman’s health products, and partnering with the Veteran's Academic Resource Center to provide additional discounts to veterans attending UCF.
Various points of the platform received enthusiastic support from the crowd. The platform point that inspired the most cheering from the crowd, however, was their promise to advocate for beer to be available in the student section at football games.
Bolona, an SGA Senator, and Shalhoub, former UCF Sigma Chi President, made a point of casting themselves as pro-transparency, anti-nepotism outsiders looking to clean up SGA, making a number of allegations of corruption within the student government.
“I think transparency within the UCF students and SGA is a very big thing that's going on right now,” Kelly Scannell, hospitality management major said. “To make it transparent to the students… that our money is going to something good and not just bad.”
While speaking about a proposal to evaluate all members of their cabinet on a monthly basis, Shalhoub alleged that the cabinet selection process was marred by exchanges of political favors.
“One of things that happens during these campaigns traditionally is that the candidates will go up to people running, or people who want to help people running, and they'll say, 'Hey. If I give you this cabinet position, have all your people vote for us and get us into power and then you'll be able to sit on it,'” said Shalhoub.
“And Josh and I, we haven't promised a single position. And we're not going to do that throughout the whole campaign. Because we believe that's unethical," Shalhoub said. "What we're going to do is open up our cabinet positions to every student who attends UCF, once we're elected. And we're going to re-evaluate them every month to make sure that they're on top of they're jobs.”
Originally published Feb. 24