Senate Hopefuls Debate for Top Positions

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From left to right: Halimah Najieb-Locke and Alia Al-Sharif, juniors and candidates for student body president, brought up such issues as school spirit and environmentalism in their debate in Crossroads last Thursday. Photo by Emily Bogden/Foghorn

ASUSF Electoral Governing Board (EGB) kicked off this week’s Senate elections last Thursday with executive board debates in Crossroads Café, a few days before undergraduate students voted their choice of candidates from April 19-22. EGB is the student committee that overlooks the election process.

Students filled Crossroads Café to hear the debates during dead hour, along with notable USF administrators, Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J. and Vice President for University Life Margaret Higgins, among others.

EGB delegated two contending candidates at a time, beginning with VP of Mission candidates Kelly Cook and Alden Cruz, followed by VP of Business, VP of Public Relations, and VP of Internal Affairs. A mix of Senate returnees and newcomers ran for the top spots.

For President, juniors Halimah Naijeb-Locke and Alia Al-Sharif have both served on Senate this past year, as VP of Internal Affairs (Naijeb-Locke) and VP of Mission (Al-Sharif).

At the debate, Naijeb-Locke noted her qualities and goals. “What is unique about me is, I love to talk,” she said, “I bring an openness and care-free attitude…but also I’ve done a lot on this campus to see how it works and I think what is missing is how the students connect.” She said she hopes to bridge the communication between all students, since “communication is key” to keep students up-to date with Senate’s undertakings.

Al-Sharif highlighted that although they both have different approaches and different experiences, she said, “My main goal and main initiative is really standing up and taking the same initiative.”  Both candidates mentioned that they want to strengthen USF’s school spirit, a problem that has plagued the campus in years before.

From Naijeb-Locke’s perspective, lack of school spirit resides in students’ disconnection with the university, even though, she said, “On this campus, we’re so vibrant, we’re so alive, we’re so active.”

Yet, according to Al-Sharif, the biggest issue facing USF is incorporating more environmentalism onto the campus, “Making our community a greener community,” she said.

In addition to Al-Sharif’s call for a greener campus, ASUSF Senate had passed the proposal for a $2 Green Initiative Fund for Tomorrow (GIFT) Referendum Fee to be added to the student activity fee. The proposal passed on April 13, and has been added to the ballot for this Spring elections. According to the ballot, the fee “Will allocate funds to projects that increase the amount of renewable energy used on campus, increase energy efficiency, and reduce the amount of waste created by USF.” About $18,000 is expected to come from the fee alone, which will increase the student activity fee from $80 to $82 per semester.

The fee will cover possible projects such as the Farmers Market and expansion of the USF garden, a campus green house, re-usable water bottles for the entire community, healthy and local food education, and so forth, according to the official website for USF’s “Green Initiative Fund for Tomorrow.”

Senior Represenative Jon Coon suggested that such a fee should exist since other colleges and universities have already implemented green fees for their campus, and in a way USF is behind, he said.  If the fee passes, it will become effective in Fall 2011 if approved by the Board of Trustees.

Still, Al-Sharif said the fee could cover projects such as placing more compost bins and containers around campus, since these bins are currently only in the UC center.

To make voting convenient for students, EGB made the polling places easily accessible at several campus locations, like the outside of the Market Cafe and residence hall lobbies, as well as online. The Spring 2010 Elections end Thursday April 22, with candidates announced that same evening in the UC Green and Gold room.

For information on the Green Referendum Fee, visit http://usfgift.wordpress.com/

*Foghorn went into print before winning candidates were announced

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