Catching up with SG President Brandon Gross

PRESIDENTIAL: SG President Brandon Gross is midway through his term and looking to follow through on all of his ticket’s campaign promises. Getting ESPNU on campus and improving the advising system are some remaining goals. Tanya Thompson // Hurricane Staff.

Sitting comfortably in a black leather chair in the Student Government (SG) office, University of Miami SG President Brandon Gross does not look like a dubious politician who commits to haphazard promises that he cannot keep.

Indeed, positioned behind Gross, a whiteboard displays a slogan that reaffirms his administration’s promises: “Keeping Our Commitment.”

“That’s our theme for the second half of our term,” said Gross, who was recently tapped by Iron Arrow, UM’s secret honor society. “I want to get all the things that we promised done, that are already in the works right now.”

Starbucks is now open until 10 p.m. on Sundays, parking has been increased for commuters, flashy beach-cruiser UBikes are keeping cautious walkers on their toes and students no longer need a thesis to graduate summa or magna cum laude – initiatives implemented by the Gross administration, which includes Vice President Claudia Medina and Treasurer Shajena Erazo.

Five Zipcar automobiles are available for residents who want to rent a car for several hours to travel off campus. The company, founded in 1999 by Massachusetts entrepreneurs, provides affordable transportation to students who pay an hourly fee for the car’s use.

“We came up with the idea and it has gone above and beyond what we expected from the program,” Gross said. “A lot of students are signed up and the amount of hours those cars are gone are phenomenal. That’s something we’re been really proud of.”

SG plans to augment the program.

“We’re hoping to bring some more vehicles in the next couple of months,” Gross said.

Yet, there is still much left to accomplish. ESPNU availability on campus is being negotiated, online registration for all students is planned for the spring and an improved advising system is still being developed.

Gross is comfortable that all these initiatives will be realized. Students will be receiving a survey after registration is finished to assess their advising experiences.

Many programs of the former SG administration, under Danny Carvajal, are currently being expanded upon as well.

“[We have] continued to push for past accomplishments of other administrations. The Ibis Ride was a Student Government initiative and it’s important to keep on promoting them to make sure they are successful,” Gross said.

“I have faith that Brandon and his team will continue to push the implementation of our programs for UM students,” said Justin Gaither, former SG treasurer during the Carvajal administration and UM graduate. “We had numerous accomplishments and we held several great events. We had a successful Student Government awareness month to just let people know what the organization is about, and how people can get involved and have a say in what the SG is doing.”

Including the Ibis Ride, many items of the Carvajal platform have been sustained by the current administration. The GreenU initiative, for example, is still very visible today.

UM graduate Molly Jones, Carvajal’s vice president, played a vital role in promoting sustainability programs to improve UM’s efforts toward becoming a “green” university.

“The GreenU initiatives on our platform were very important to us because they were created for the overall betterment of our university and the surrounding city,” Jones said. “I am pleased that Brandon and his team have picked up where we left off and are making every effort to keep our campus environmentally-friendly.”

“I think it’s great that they are doing what they said they would do,” Lauren Rosenfeld, a senior, said. “They were great goals to begin with and it’s even better that they were able to get them done.”

So what advice could a former vice president give to the current administration, who still faces a number of goals to be accomplished in the second half of their term?

“Think outside the box and never be afraid to take initiative. And smile, always smile,” Jones said.