At the heart of the University of Miami Coral Gables campus, free donuts, flyers lining the walkway and the sound of speeches echoing from The U statue can mean only one thing: election season has arrived.
Student government elections will be taking place until Thursday, Feb. 24, with open positions including president, vice president, treasurer and senate seats.
This year, the selection of candidates is largely focused on two rival tickets: “Refresh” and “A U for You.” While some students have clear allegiance to one of the two parties, many see both as fresh and exciting options.
“What I like most about student government elections are the new ideas that each ticket and candidate has,” said sophomore political science major Sterling Cole. “I think it’s important to see what people want to change and how they will go about implementing it.”
Some student leaders are hopeful that this year’s election season will be an amicable and civil competition.
“What I love about these two tickets is that they’re extremely cooperative and friendly with each other,” said freshman student-senator Evan Bycholski. “Transparently, elections haven’t always been as friendly as they are this cycle. Both tickets are composed of some of the greatest student leaders this university has to offer.”
The “A U for You” ballot features junior Paul Douillon a criminology major for president, sophomore Niles Niseem a broadcast journalism major for vice president and junior Tatiana Alvarado for treasurer.
Their campaign focuses on six initiatives that they believe cover all aspects of the student experience: greek life, student life, commuter students, diversity, equity, and inclusion committee, student government and community for life.
Alvarado, a business law and political science major, says their ticket is focused on getting more students involved in on-campus leadership.
“I really think that there’s something happening with the culture here at UM that students are starting to feel more involved in the culture and that’s what we built our platform around,” Alvarado said. “We want to make sure your voice is being represented. We want to make sure that your ideas are being heard.”
The success of the “A U for You” ticket may depend on some of the unique and popular on-campus reforms they have championed, which include being able to upload a Cane Card into Apple Wallet, commuter parking pass scholarships and recognizing Indigenous People’s Day on campus.
“We’ve been going around to organizations to make sure our initiatives are being heard and that we’re taking ideas actively from students as we do this process,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado says her experience helping with her family business and managing the budget of Hurricane Productions and Orientation program will help her ticket efficiently manage school money to get things done.
“As far as our budget goes, I want to make sure that we’re spending money on things that students care about,” Alvarado said. “Additionally, I want to make sure that we’re not wasting money, making sure that we’re not putting funds where they shouldn’t be.”
On the opposing side, “Refresh” is grounding itself on a platform of increased transparency, which they hope to achieve through an emphasis on campus and student life, academics and health and wellness.
The ticket is composed of juniors Jamie Victoria William-Smith a business technology and strategic communication major for president, Chika Nwosu biology and psychology major for vice president and Shadae Nicholas a biochemistry major for treasurer.
Some of the “Refresh” ticket initiatives include putting the Corner Deli on GrubHub, allowing for counseling appointments to be made online, putting security cameras in the parking garages and adding a Life Skills cognate featuring classes on how to navigate adulthood.
“They are not just ideas, but actual steps we can take,” Nwosu said.
If elected, Nwosu says she hopes to grow as a person and a leader while helping to implement the “Refresh” ticket’s ambitious agenda.
“I want to continue to grow with myself, but I also want to help it grow as well and I think the best way to grow is by being authentic and genuine,” Nwosu said. “Refresh has ideas that I wanted before the campaign season started, like housing transparency and a public syllabus bank.”