PAAVANI LELLA & ETHAN TAN
The results of this year’s ASUSF Senate elections were announced on Monday after 799 ballots were cast last week (marking an approximately 15% voter turnout among eligible undergraduates).
Two referendums on the ballot also passed. One officially designates the undergraduate representative on the University Budget Advisory Council as a Senate-level executive position and the other created four at-large Senate constituencies, effective fall semester 2021.
The Foghorn invited all Senate representatives to be interviewed, but Junior Class Representative-elect Louise de Oliveira, College of Arts and Sciences Representative-elect Bianca Mantovani, School of Nursing and Health Professions Representative-elect Sunshine Joyce Batsin, Gender and Sexual Diversity Representative-elect Lauren Diaz, and International Student Representative-elect Basilos Tesfai did not respond to an interview request.
Junior environmental science major Marisol Castro won the presidency with nearly 65% of the vote. Castro said she plans to start the transition process right away by meeting with current Senate President John Iosefo to reflect on his experience this year, in addition to meeting with other newly elected representatives.
“I am looking forward to meeting my new team,” Castro said. “I am excited to meet people who share the same passion as me of contributing our time and dedication to helping our students.”
In addition, Castro looks to build a strong working relationship with University administrators to implement the policies she ran on, which include prioritizing relationships with students and collaboration with administrators.
When asked about what her first priority would be during her early days in office, Castro said she wants to ensure all senators will have adequate support and resources to best serve their constituencies.“I believe [support and resources] should start very early in the term in order to start the process of building connections and do whatever it takes to make sure our students’ voices are incorporated into the resolutions or initiatives being made,” she said.
Castro also added that she hopes to incorporate more student voices into Senate by increasing their visibility and outreach. “I hope this would help us gain trust from students so they understand that we are here to make the change necessary to improve their overall experience here at USF,” she said.
Vice President of Advocacy
In the tightest race this year, sophomore psychology and management major Idea Fatarida Phuwadonanon edged out her opponent to be elected the next vice president of advocacy with 54.9% of the vote.
Phuwadonanon said she looks forward to playing a part in easing the various societal issues and sustainability problems that occur both inside and outside of USF. Specifically, she hopes to reduce students’ financial stresses, confront hate crime issues, and reinforce current mental health services. Phuwadonanon said she also wants to add more jobs to the student employment pool on campus.
Student with Disabilities Representative
Zuri Vera Nunez, a sophomore psychology major, defeated the incumbent student with disabilities representative with nearly 56% of the vote. Nunez, who described her victory as “surreal,” will work with the incumbent, Ava Albert, in the coming days to facilitate a smooth transition. “I’ll be helping her with current projects she has going on; resolutions she might pass,” said Nunez.
Nunez said her Instagram DMs have been full with students reaching out to her with concerns and requests for help in navigating SDS services.
Nunez wants to prioritize the transition from remote learning to in-person learning. She said, “I’m aware many students are worried about how their health will be affected as we shift from our online routines to in-person, so I do want to address those concerns. I’m also aware everyone’s disability is different, which is why I plan to approach this role with a holistic mindset.”
When working with students, Nunez wants to promote Student Disability Services (SDS) offers, such as academic accommodations. Nunez also plans to work with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to provide mental health services to students with disabilities, so they feel safe and welcomed on campus.
Transfer Student Representative
Miles Goodman, a junior psychology major, won the race for transfer student representative with 55.56% of the vote.“I joined ASUSF Senate because I’d been dealing with this feeling of gloom in my first semester at USF, and I think once I got into it, I realized it was an overwhelming desire that I could be doing more,” Goodman said.
One of his plans is to establish an on-campus transfer center. Goodman mentioned how two of the uncertainties that transfer students face are lack of staff support and uncertainty regarding credit transfers. “Many of us come here with the prime objective of finishing our degree with as few barriers as possible, that’s why I believe — with the amount of transfer students this school admits on an annual basis — we deserve a space,” Goodman said.
Given USF’s next provost, Julia Chinyere Oparah’s experience with assisting transfer students by creating guaranteed pathways at Mills College, Goodman would like to collaborate with her to create this center. “I’m excited to welcome [Oparah] to the Hilltop and work with her and the rest of the Senate on potentially developing a layout for a space that could assist transfer student’s needs,” he said.
Senior Class Representative
Current Vice President of Marketing and Communication Tanya Sanjay received just over a 97% approval to become the next senior class representative. Sanjay, a junior marketing major, said that she looks forward to “working with so many of the same great and experienced senators who were a part of ASUSF Senate this year, as well as some newcomers.”
Sanjay’s first priority in office is to deal with the return to campus. “We’ll be rapidly and closely monitoring the effectiveness of the new policies and procedures that will dictate the success of our return to campus,” she said. Sanjay said she wants to ensure seniors have a memorable last year after spending a year and a half online.
She also wants to use her background as an Asian international student to continue to advocate for minority communities and to create a safe and welcoming environment. “I want to continue all of my work specifically advocating for Asian/Asian-American, Black-identified, and international students as they’ll face additional hurdles and fear coming back to campus due to travel restrictions and recent hate-crime spikes in the U.S.”
Sophomore Class Representative
Angelo Resayo, a freshman politics major, and was approved as Sophomore Class Representative with a 97.22% approval rating. Resayo’s top priority for the coming year is to increase cultural awareness at USF. “The greatest priority would be to begin working with leaders of different cultural organizations and clubs and discuss with them how they can share their culture and experiences, whether it be learning about the different religious holidays celebrated or sharing their food culture with the student body,” he said. He hopes to achieve this by communicating to students through social media and other formats in order to truly create a welcoming and inclusive environment.
School of Management Representative
Having gained just over a 96% approval from voters, sophomore finance major Esha Seth will be the next School of Management representative. Seth told the Foghorn that she is eager to meet other representatives and is looking forward to being able to represent the students in the School of Management.
Seth said her first priority is to see what issues and challenges students face students in the School of Management face. With the return to the Hilltop in the fall, Seth aims to create social and professional events that students can attend in-person to network and connect with one another. A unique idea that Seth shared is that wants to push the school to have 2-unit courses in business topics of interest that could count towards degree requirements.
Student of Color Representative
Drew Love, a freshman biology, was elected with a 97.72% approval rate and will be the next Student of Color Representative in the fall. He looks forward to expanding upon projects and connections that he’s made this year as Freshman Class Representative, and hopes to create a better climate for BIPOC students.
Love wants to to see more BIPOC faculty members at USF, particularly among full time faculty. Additionally, he hopes to “start dialogue with the Council of Deans & Vice Provosts to address how the current tenure policy adversely impacts BIPOC professors, the burnout faced by BIPOC professors from a lack of staff to support BIPOC students, and more.”
Vice President of Internal Affairs
With 97.6% approval, students elected sole candidate Lovepreet Dhinsa to the position of vice president of internal affairs. Dhinsa, a junior politics major, who is not new to the Senate. She currently serves as the junior class representative.
Dhinsa said she is excited about working with a diverse, all-female senate executive board. “As someone who has been on ASUSF Senate for the past year, I am looking forward to further increasing transparency and accountability on campus,” she said.
Dhinsa also added, “As students, we often feel a disconnect between what the administration believes students need versus what students actually need. This has become even more important as we transition into some sense of normalcy and a return back to campus, as students continue to face numerous challenges.”
Vice President of Finance
Berkelee Jimenez was approved as the next vice president of finance with a 96.67% approval rate. Jimenez, an economics major, is currently the undergraduate UBAC representative. In her new role, Jimenez said she looks forward to building community and making ASUSF Senate a place where everyone feels supported.
In her new role, Jimenez hopes to make USF more financially transparent and ensure that ASUSF funding distribution benefits all students. She also plans to make student finance more understandable. “Even outside of this role, I am passionate about making the term finance not seem like such an intimidating and incomprehensible topic,” said Jimenez, who intends to do so via increased communication between the student body and administration regarding USF’s finances.
Vice President of Marketing & Communication
Elizabeth Velez, a sophomore marketing major, with nearly 97% approval, was selected as the next vice president of marketing and communication. She told the Foghorn that she wants to prioritize highlighting advocacy work and community issues. Velez said she wants to discuss “current issues or concerns that have not been resolved or improving on campus” with the student body. Velez also intends to help create resolutions, increase social media coverage, and help organize town hall events.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Berkelee Jimenez as the next vice president of marketing and communication, she is the next vice president of finance.
Paavani Lella is a freshman biology major and a Deputy News Editor at the Foghorn. She’s previously covered campus life and the administration. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ethan Tan is a junior politics major and the Foghorn’s News Editor. He covers the University’s administration and campus labor unions. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @tanethans.