“What is senate?” It seems like a simple question, but some senate candidates had to provide such answers while publicizing themselves for the ASUSF Spring 2010 Elections. “That was such a heartbreaking thing to answer all week,” said winning VP of Internal Affairs Kelsey Jones. “People have no idea what we work for all year.” Next year, Jones wants students to know what Senate is working on, so that by next spring election students wouldn’t have to question what Senate is.
ASUSF Senate Elections ended on Thursday, April 22, after polls were open for four days. The Electoral Governing Board (EGB), the student committee that oversees elections, announced the winners that same evening in the Green and Gold Room. EGB Chair Hannah DeKay announced the winning presidential candidate last. After a brief drum roll from the approximately 20-student audience, DeKay revealed junior Halimah Najieb-Locke to be the next ASUSF president. Najieb-Locke won by a 55.88 percent majority vote, beating out fellow candidates Alia Al-Sharif and David Morse.
Two other Executive Council winners also won by a close vote: VP of Internal Affairs Kelsey Jones with 54 percent and VP of Business Administration Lex Wochner with 55 percent.
VP of Public Relations Mekdela Maskal won by an overwhelming 97.1 percent majority vote, while VP of Mission Kelly Cook won by 60.95 percent. (More election results on page two).
Elections received a 20 percent voter turn-out, down from last year’s 26 percent. Still, EGB Advisor Keegan Mills acknowledged the hard work put on by the committee. “EGB has come a long way from last year. We had two chair members to now a full board,” she said.
Mills also brought to light candidate complaints EGB received regarding other candidates’ behavior during the election. “We need to live up USF’s mission and values, but unfortunately I don’t think it was handled in its best nature.” Mills invited the candidates, whether they won or not, to lead with integrity and respect their fellow students with “the dignity they deserve.”
The election results also yielded a 55.9 percent approval for the Green Inititiative Fund for Tomorrow (GIFT) Referendum Fee. The fee will now allocate an annual $18,000 to fund projects that reduce waste and increase energy efficiency on campus. The funds will come from a $2 increase in the student activity fee (from $80 to $82), effective fall 2011 upon approval from the Board of Trustees.
A student-majority governance board will oversee how funds are spent, by looking over project proposals. The board is modeled after the student-run Superfund and Finance Committees, who oversee how the $750,000 is allocated for student clubs and organizations. All students can apply for participation on the GIFT governance board.
GIFT will also ensure that capital is returned as a result of the savings produced by the projects. Current Senior Representative John Coon said, “You can fund projects like putting in more efficient water heaters…then the savings are paid back over time so you actually get a return on your investment.” Coon proposed GIFT to Senate this past year, inspired by the other colleges and universities that have already implemented such a fee.
Coon said the next step would be finalizing the by-laws (currently in draft form) followed by the Board of Trustees’ approval. “There’s a long way to go,” he said.
For the unfilled seats on Senate, students will get a chance to run for those positions during fall elections. ASUSF President Bobby Marquez encouraged those who were not elected to take up fall elections.
Otherwise, “there’s a million great ways to get involved in the university,” he said.
New senators will be inducted at the Senate Induction on May 12th from 6-8 p.m. in McLaren 250. Senate Meetings will continue to be held every Tuesday from 6-8 p.m.
President: Halimah Najieb-Locke 55.88%
VP of Internal Affairs: Kelsey Jones 54%
VP of Mission: Kelly Cook 60.95%
VP of Business Administration: Lex Wochner 55%
VP of Public Relations: Mekdela Maskal 97.1%
Sophomore Class Representative: Landon Boren
Senior Class Representative: Patrick Sudlow
On-Campus Representative: EvanVaughan
Off-Campus Representative: Estephanie Sunga and Vicente Patino
Student of Color Rep.: Carmen Fernandez and Georgette Nze
International Student Rep.: Mengxing Wang
School of Nusing: Thuy Nguyen and Sarah Rainville
School of Business/Prof.
Studies Representative: Poonam Lal and Adam Molina
College of Arts/Sciences: William Woods and David Morse
GIFT Referendum: Approved 55.9%