SG candidates enter campaign mode

(Left to Right) Michael Kaplan, Brandon Mitchell and Joshua Llanos are all running in the 2011 Student Government President race. Britney Bomnin//Art Director

As the current Student Government (SG) administration prepares to draw the curtain on its term, three fresh faces will be placed on the ballot for this year’s elections. Whether it’s their platforms or their backgrounds that make these candidates distinct, they all have one goal in common: to serve as the next SG president.

“Twice a year we give students the opportunity to have a direct impact on our university,” current SG President Christina Farmer said.

SG elections take place twice a year; once in the fall for senators, and once in the spring for president, vice president and treasurer.

Usually, there are feelings of apathy when voting for candidates that will swear by the red, white and blue. Eighteen to 29 year olds have voted at rates between 10 percent and 25 percent lower than the national average for decades, according to the Seattle Pi, a publication based out of Seattle.

At UM, many students are also indifferent when it comes to democratic matters of the orange and green. From about 10,000 enrolled students in spring 2010, less than 20 percent of students voted.

“We have more [voters] in the spring,” said Joel Lugones, chair of the SG Elections Commission. “Last spring we had close to 2,000 students voting.”

But there are always SG supporters.

“[SG] elections are important because they give students an opportunity to voice their opinions on campus matters,” freshman Veronica Diaz said.

The past SG administration’s motto, “U First,” promoted student input and sought to implement each student’s individual ideas and suggestions. Projects completed by this administration included implementing ICEE machines in the C-Store and a farmer’s market by Richter every Wednesday.

“This election differs in the sense that the candidates are coming off an extremely successful year and there are very high expectations for the next administration,” SG Vice President Pietro Bortoletto said.

Candidates launch their campaigns Monday, and students will have to sift through slogans and platforms to determine which candidates will be most appropriate for the next administration. Despite the impact SG has on campus, many will still choose not to vote.

“I think SG elections allow students to select candidates that will represent their opinions on minor campus matters,” sophomore Cristina Aguilar said. “I don’t think I’ll vote because the matters that are discussed don’t affect me in a major way.”

According to another student, elections are simply biased.

“I feel like student government elections are not treated the way they should be treated,” freshman Valentin Arenas said. “Instead, they are a popularity contest.”

The ballots, which will include candidates and their teams of vice president and treasurer, will give students the opportunity to vote for the most competent trio. Students also have the option of voting a split ticket.

“If you make your vote based on platforms, it would be challenging to prove that the president of a ticket is better equipped to run on the same set of platforms than their vice president or treasurer,” said Aaron Esman, speaker of the Senate, on his SG elections blog. Elections for student government senators and executive board (president, vice president, treasurer) will be from Feb. 21-23 in the residential colleges and UC Breezeway.

Winners of the senate are determined according to plurality and only a statistical tie will cause a run-off election. Winners of the executive board will be determined by 50 percent plus one of the votes cast. If none of the candidates receive 50 percent plus one, they will need to go to run-off elections. Results for general elections will be announced at 5:30 p.m. at the Rock. If needed, run-off elections will be from Feb. 28- March 2.

“Ask tough questions and do research,” Farmer said. “You want a team that is willing to fight for students and hear your voice.”

Stephanie Parra may be contacted at

Can’t get enough of the elections?

  • Stanford Hecht Dining Hall Meet the Candidates— Monday, 5-7 p.m.
  • Food court Meet the Candidates— Tuesday, 12-1p.m.
  • Vice-Presidential Debate— Tuesday, 7 p.m., UC Lower Lounge
  • Mahoney Pearson Dining Hall Meet the Candidates— Wednesday, 5-7 p.m.
  • Presidential Debate— Thursday, 7 p.m., UC Lower Lounge
  • Elections—Feb. 21-23, residential colleges and UC Breezeway
  • Check out Aaron Esman’s blog on elections at

Profiles on each of the three candidates

  1. Brandon Mitchell Motto: Taking U Forward Running Mates: Ashley Taggart VP, Jake Kruppa Treasurer Year: Junior Major: Sports Administration Minor: Political Science Campaign Web site: Color: Green Experience:   Chair of Category 5 , Student Government Executive Board member for two years, Vice Chair of Category sophomore year, Chair of Category 5, junior yea Top 3 platform goals: Design a course: will give the students the opportunity to design their own course and learn things that they wouldn’t have had a chance to learn otherwise Take out from the dining halls: schools from all over the country have moved toward take out dining, and we still don’t have that opportunity Student input on the homecoming concert: this was a hot-button issue last year, and it’s time the students have a voice Other goals:He’s divided his platform goals into the three C’s…courses, campus life and communications. Why U? “I decided to run because I saw what Christina did this year with her administration, and she has great momentum with SG right now. We’re at a critical stage where we need an SG that could really capitalize on that momentum and take student life to a whole new level. We want to leave a long-lasting impact. We want to feed off the momentum this year, our passion, our experience and really capture the essence of the University of Miami.”
  2. Michael Kaplan Motto: True to U Running Mates: Samantha Flanagan (VP), Yuval Peleg (Treasurer) Year: Junior Majors: History and Political Science Minors: Theater, Business Law, Sports Administration Campaign Web site: Color: Light blue Experience: Student Government: College of Arts and Sciences Senator, Chair of Academic Affairs Committee in the Senate Greek life leadership: President of Alpha Epsilon Pi P100 Top 3 platform goals: Parking issues: comprised of two different things; getting security cameras in parking lots and parking garages in order to check footage if something happens to the cars), and opening more parking spaces for students by converting lots to student lots. Richard Sobaram, the director of parking and transportation services, has already approved of this plan. Screen on the green for away game nights: For nights that UM teams have away games, there will be a large screen on the green for students to come watch the games. They may bring food if they wish, and it will promote school spirit. Once per semester student yard sale: Students can bring their refrigerators, TVs or other things they need to sell so other students may buy them. Why U? “I feel like I would make a good president because I love this school. I am here on financial aid, and I feel like I’ve always owed the school something. I’ve developed a strong love for the school. I already have relationships with administrators so I can deliver on my promises. I’m dedicated. I will do everything I can to be sure that I can stay true to U, U being the student voice.”
  3. Josh Llano Motto: U KNOW WHAT IT IS Running Mates: Giselle Sardiñas (VP), Kameeka Shirley (Treasurer) Year: Junior Major: Accounting Campaign Web site: no Web site, Facebook group “U KNOW WHAT IT IS” Colors: Black and yellow Experience: Greek life leadership: Alumni Relations Chairman of Pi Kappa Alpha Vice President of External Operations for Pi Kappa Alpha Top 3 platform goals: Expanding Canes Nites: By expanding transporation to different events in the community (i.e. music festivals, Art Basel, etc.), that would allow UM students to experience the culture and diversity Miami has to offer ii. Better bike paths on campus: this would allow for students that use bicycles to avoid bicycling through crowds of students in the walk pathways. This would be timely, considering that U Bike is implementing a new bike rental program in the upcoming weeks. iii. On-campus Cleaning Service: As the majority of students have busy schedules, extending cleaning service to the towers, residence halls and the UV would be ideal relieving them of stress stemming from cluttered rooms and allowing them to effortlessly maintain their living quarters. For students involved in Greek life, this would also be an easy and accessible way to keep their suites clean for chapter and other important events. Why U?Throughout my life I have always portrayed leadership qualities, allowing me to excel and help my peers to reach new heights. As the president of the student body at UM, I believe I can instill ideas and plans that would not only be accomplished, but that will remain relevant for years to come.”