Student government promises a good year

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In a small cramped office room, Nick Cote is writing on a dry erase board. His small handwriting shows three columns titled “To Do,” “In Progress” and “Completed.” The To Do column has the longest list of items.
Nick Cote is treasurer of student government (SG). He was going over what needs to be done for the new administration for the upcoming year under the new president, rising senior Christina Farmer.
For the first time, the majority of the SG executive board members will be in attendance over the summer to develop the platforms they promised in their campaign for the next year.
Rising sophomore Ryan Aquilina, the SG press secretary, a new position that Farmer’s administration created, said that if SG gets its major proposals ready to move, they will be ready to advertise them at the beginning of the fall semester.
“We can use the time to really reach out,” he said. “We want to focus on the new things.”
After their first three weeks in office, the newly appointed SG executive board completed one policy they guaranteed in its campaign platform. During finals for the spring 2010 semester, students had a 24-hour library and a 24-hour C-store.
SG members also hosted a study break, where they greeted students and gave out snacks, and served midnight breakfast at the Hecht-Stanford Residential dining hall.
During the summer, members will take on some of their initiatives as projects. For example, rising senior and Vice President Valentina Lamas will be in charge of bringing a Fresh Farmer’s Market to the Rock. The market would offer healthier options and welcome local organic farmers to sell their produce at the heart of campus.
“It would be cheaper in price than Publix or Whole Foods,” Lamas said. “It’s something that the students will want.”
Lamas said President Donna E. Shalala was receptive to the idea, but she has to figure out where to place it.
Cote, a rising senior, will not be joining the members staying during the summer, but he will have his own project: improving the pre-professional tracks, such as pre-law and pre-medicine.
Cote said he wants to secure more advisers for the different tracks. Right now, advisers help with courses students need to graduate, instead of classes that will benefit them in general.
“There are so many gateways these degrees afford, [other]than the certified doctor,” Cote said.
He has talked with Christian Garcia, head of Toppel Career Center, and Dr. William Green, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, about what is next and what is going to be accomplished.
Farmer’s main goal is to bring greater student involvement into the SG process. She also wishes to have open meetings on the UC Foote Green for students to ask questions and give feedback.
“We don’t want people to come to the SG office,” Farmer said. “We want to go to them.”
SG is working on hosting an idea generator for its Web site. The members want to have students share their concerns or thoughts on projects they would want done. It will provide resources on where to go and who to go to. All the suggestions will be read at the executive board meetings.
“It takes a while to find out where to get things done,” Farmer said. “There are so many administrators.”
Additionally, SG wants to work together with the other branches of student government. The legal aid platform has been given to the judicial branch to work on. The idea will give students a chance to gain advice from lawyers and law professors from the School of Law and pro-bono lawyers outside of the university.
Farmer said they will work on it all summer and hope to have it in the fall, but for now, it’s in the preliminary stages.
“We’ll be here,” she said. “Come see us, we’ll come see you. It’s going to be a good year.”
For more information on next year’s student government, visit www.voteufirst.com.
INFOBOX

Some Student Government Initiatives for 2010-2011:

  • Fresh farmer’s market
  • Improvement of pre-professional tracks
  • More efficient food services: Credit card use in kiosks, calories on menus, slushy machine in C-Store, 24 hour C-store during finals)
  • Student legal aide
  • Textbook rental service
  • Canes Nights to experience Miami on and off campus
  • Improved parking: Convenient parking service, discount carpool passes, wellness and apartment area all access lots
  • Campus-wide access to software, such as SPSS, Adobe Creative Suite and Final Cut, through the internet
  • UPlanner: Sync your calendar with UM events of your choice
  • Rent-a-Bike program

Andrea Concepcion may be contacted at aconcepcion@themiamihurricane.com.

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