Smaller projects cause greater benefits for students

Michael Johnston wants to bring the kids back to campus.

That theme encompasses all of Johnston’s goals as the University of Miami’s Student Government President for this school year.

“We want to focus on smaller projects that more directly benefit the students and bring the campus together by accommodating their needs,” said Johnston of Student Government’s plans this fall.

The Student Government will execute these plans to unite the campus by forming a close working relationship with both the University’s student organizations and the administration.

“President Shalala’s leadership style is very proactive; she wants to make things happen right away,” Johnston said of working with the University’s new President. “I’m the same way – I want to get things done, and we have.”

During the summer, Student Government accomplished several goals that will immediately impact students.

Resident students will notice that Student Government, in cooperation with the Department of Residence Halls and the Dining Services administrations, placed two ice machines in each of the residence halls.

The University convenience store is now open 24 hours to promote safety for students who previously would have had to walk to Circle K in the middle of the night.

Commuters and all students now have more options than just Sbarro for dinner after class. Jamba Juice and Burger King will operate until 9 p.m. as a result of Student Government’s efforts.

Students in the Cox and Ungar buildings can find a snack between classes at the new food cart that Student Government placed in front of the Cox Science Center.

The placement of two televisions in each residence hall cafeteria will provide students another gathering place to watch Hurricanes sports.

Johnston said he and the other Executive Officers, Vice President Justin Levine and Treasurer Mahala Dar, have completed all but one goal touted on their campaign platform: “We just need to work on getting better cable channels like Comedy Central and ESPN2 in the dorms.”

While increasing cable television options for residents was an issue on his platform that he still plans to address, Johnston said his biggest concern for the future is improving the classroom environment.

“When you need to take an open-book physics exam and you have your test, your textbook, your notes, your calculator and your Scantron card all on that tiny desk you end up wasting time trying to find each thing instead of actually taking the test,” said Johnston of the desks in the auditorium-style classrooms of the Whitten Learning Center.

He said he wants to improve the desk space in that building as well as make larger, more comfortable desks and chairs for students in other facilities such as the Memorial building.

Other goals Student Government wants to achieve this fall include extended hours for the library as well as adding a Macintosh computer lab to the library for photography students.

Johnston also mentioned expanding Greek life on campus and attending to commuters’ needs to further encourage campus unity.

Johnston said he encourages all students to feel free to contact him and the other Student Government officers at the Student Government office in University Center 214 or call (305) 284-3082 if they have any concerns or needs.

“We’re all students, too. We’re here for everyone,” he said.