They came a little late in the game, but Anthony Safadi and Ali Nassereddin have made an official bid for the SGA presidency and are now campaigning hard as they don wigs and adopt demeanors reminiscent of U.S. presidential candidates in comedic videos on their campaign’s Facebook Page.
Their goal? To inject some humor into their campaign and ”Make UCF Great Again.”
According to a Facebook post, Safadi promises to refuse a salary from UCF as SGA president, and to make SGA more accessible to students by keeping the SGA office open to all students.
Safadi, who plans to run for SGA president with Nassereddin as his vice president, also emphasized the absurdity of punishing students with expensive parking tickets on a campus that, he asserted, has roughly ".28 spots per student," assuming there are 63,000 students and 18,000 parking spots on campus.
“I will dissolve the ability for UCF to hand out parking tickets as they please,” Safadi shared in a Facebook post. “I guarantee it. There's nothing I will enjoy more than doing so. It's not the students' fault that our student population is sky rocketing and the amount of parking spaces is staying the same.”
As a way to diversify UCF’s SGA Senate and eliminate the disproportionate influence and control he claims the Greek student population has over SGA, Safadi plans to make IQ tests mandatory for anyone interested in becoming an SGA senator.
“Over 50 [percent] of SGA is Greek, yet Greek life makes up only 13 [percent] of our student body," Safadi said. “Under my administration being Greek will not qualify you to be in SGA. Now this doesn't mean we are kicking people out, we are just going to operate on a fair playing field.”
Meghan Kircher, the SGA speaker of the house, believes Safadi’s suggestion is unnecessary and borderline undemocratic.
“I think that’s insulting to so many of the people who apply to become senators and everybody who runs,” Kircher said. “If you are a student, and you feel like you have something to say, then you have every right to run for a seat in Senate or apply for a seat in Senate, and that’s really what having a democracy in our country and in our student government is all about.”
But Safadi said it's about building smart leadership.
"Our university doesn't win anymore. Why? Because we don't have smart leadership," he said. "We are going to start winning folks, we just don't have a choice. I don't just want IQ tests, I want polygraph tests too. We need to make sure everyone has true intentions coming into our student government. We can not afford not to."
Safadi also wishes to set strict term limits of SGA senators to one year in an attempt to allow more students the opportunity to join the SGA Senate, discourage potential “career politicians,” and lower the chance of corruption.
"We need to get rid of our SGA career politicians," Safadi said. "It's simple, if we don't want career politicians in the US government then why would we want them in our UCF government."
When asked what she thought of Safadi’s idea, Kircher modestly chuckled and advised that such an action would be unwise because the organization needs experienced senators to help mentor the new ones, and the learning process for effective leadership takes more than a year to master.
“I think that would really limit the growth and potential of, not only the individuals, but the organization,” Kircher said. “The best senators that we have are the best because they have experience. […] In my first Senate meeting, I didn’t really know what was going on or what was happening too much. I was a brand new senator, and it was my very first time looking at an agenda, and now I’m running the meetings three years later. So I think it really takes experience and that’s what the older senators are there for.”
Although he has his naysayers, Safadi said history is made by those who participate, not those who doubt.
"There will always be those on the sidelines who doubt, who scream in disbelief, but history has showed us it is not the loudest voice who determines history, but rather those who take action and rise to the occasion instead of spectating from the sidelines of the political arena," he said.
Safadi and Nassereddin propose some big changes in how the SGA Senate operates, but Safadi feels it's all for the better, otherwise, he expressed in his Facebook post, he would've comfortably remained a Justice for UCF.
“I didn't have to run for president,” Safadi said. “I could have remained a Justice for UCF and stayed comfortable, but our student body is being robbed blind, and I decided I've seen enough abuse.”
"To the students, I hear you. I'm with you. The days of financial abuse, corruption and no accountability are nearing their ends," he added. "We are coming. The UCF student body is coming. We are going to take back our school and return it to its greatest days. We will Make UCF great again."
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at MariaB@centralfloridafuture.com.
Deanna Ferrante is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.