News, Student Government

Newly inaugurated SG president discusses plans for future

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Student Government president-elect Evan De Joya (left) and 2008's president Brandon Gross (right) mingle during the election announcement event Feb. 15 at the Lakeside Patio. Gross now works at the university as the associate director for the university center and student activities center. Photo credit: Matt Bernanke

The days of taking an Uber or Lyft to South Beach for more than $20 may be behind us as the new Student Government Executive Branch leaders work on a reimbursement project.

Less than three months ago, junior Evan De Joya, a geography and biology double major, focused on getting elected as the UM Student Government president. De Joya ran for president under the UFirst ticket with juniors Catherine De Freitas and Rafael Cariello.

Now, the newly inaugurated president focuses on fulfilling his ticket’s campaign promises. For De Joya, this means meeting with administrators to understand all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into completing a Student Government initiative.

“We’ve definitely gotten a better idea of the specific steps that we need to take in order to accomplish our goals,” De Joya said.

One of SG’s most notable ambitions is to set a plan to initiate a subsidization program for Uber and Lyft rides originating from campus.

De Joya said he and his colleagues recently met with UM Department of Parking and Transportation to map out a specific plan of bringing their initiative to life. While it is not expected to come to fruition until 2019, SG has many projects that students can currently see on campus.

For example, SG leadership has been working to alleviate some of the overcrowding in the library, which is typical for finals season.

In response to student complaints about a lack of a quiet study space, De Joya met with the Office of Classroom Management to secure 10 classrooms in the Dooly Memorial Building to use as study rooms during reading days. Rooms will be available from April 28 to May 1.

“It’s a start, and it’s a pilot,” De Joya said. “We’re going to see how many students use it.”

SG is also sponsoring an eight-hour study event at the Rat to offer another option for students looking to cram on campus.

De Joya has been working on another goal for SG since the start of his campaign, too – transparency.

“We want students to not only know what projects we’re working on, but to also be engaged with them,” he said.

De Joya expects to release the first SG progress report at the end of April and for the monthly publications to continue throughout next year. Each issue will lay out the details behind SG initiatives and keep students updated about what is going on during meetings, all with the goal of ensuring everyone on campus stays in the loop on SG’s activities.

De Joya hopes that demystifying SG’s process will encourage more students to get involved.

“Developing a strong and diverse team that has a bunch of different perspectives from all across campus will be very valuable in getting initiatives done,” he said.

Hoping to attract new members for next year, SG created a streamlined application process for its six executive committees. Now, instead of using a different form for each committee, students can fill out a common application to avoid confusion.

Since making this change, SG has seen a 50 percent increase in applications for executive committee seats, De Joya said.

“As students, we’re really the stakeholders in this university,” he said. “Enabling students to have a voice on campus gets people more engaged and also makes them feel like they’re a valuable part of the community.”

Working to create a Student Government that is completely visible and accessible to all students is SG’s main mission for the next year.

“We want students to be able to play as big a role in the campus community as possible,” De Joya said. “Bettering our connection with the student body is so important.”

Correction, April 24, 2018: A previous version of this story stated that Evan De Joya’s major was geology, it has been updated to reflect that his major is geography.

April 23, 2018

Reporters

Rebecca Goddard


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