SGA presidential candidates debate student concerns
The 2016 SGA presidential debate was held in the Cape Florida ballroom of the Student Union from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23. Gabby Baquero, Central Florida future
During Wednesday night’s Student Government Association debate, presidential hopefuls debated security, transparency and the merits of the Aramark deal.
The night’s debate, located in the Cape Florida Ballroom of the Student Union, revolved around the value of experience versus outside representation.
Candidates Chris Clemente, a junior and political science and history major, and Rachel Altfield, a junior and hospitality major, trumpeted their extensive history in government. On the other side, candidates Anthony Safadi and Ali Nassereddin, both juniors and biomedical sciences majors, presented themselves as outsiders unaffiliated with Greek life who were capable of bringing reform.
The most intense verbal sparring of the night occurred over the Aramark deal.
“The Aramark deal was something that needed more transparency,” Safadi said. “I believe it was rushed through, it wasn’t done right. It was not great.”
Clemente disagreed and highlighted the increase in Student Union jobs and seating that come with the deal.
Safadi, however, held his ground.
“It was not a great deal,” Safadi said. “University of Florida got same deal for [a] five-year contract, we got it for 10. We have terrible negotiators, we’re going to bring in great negotiators.”
Clemente and Altfield made it clear their priorities were to increase the level of safety for UCF students by establishing more security cameras in parking garages and creating a partnership with Uber that will lower rates for students.
Safadi and Nassereddin said their most passionate issue was representing the average UCF student, pointing out that 50 percent of the current executive cabinet and Senate are members of greek life.
Both candidates agreed on the need for an increase in transparency between SGA and the UCF student body. They cited the Aramark deal as an example of the current administration struggles to engage with students.
When asked about possible obstacles that may come from running together, Clemente and Altfield said they were confident they’d overcome any challenge and that any obstacles would be from outside their administration.
Both candidates had ideas to make their cabinets more approachable, but each with vastly different methods.
Clemente and Altfield plan to relaunch their website and to add portals for students to contact cabinet members. They also plan to have the 90-student advisory council meet with students.
Altfield said she sees herself as an approachable, normal person, and reiterated her platform’s promise of having a thousand meetings in the first year.
As for Safadi and Nassereddin’s plans?
“The doors are coming off,” Safadi said. “There will be no doors in my presidential office or any of my directors. Anyone can come in and speak with us at any time. And I’ll be putting in bean bags so people can feel at home, there’s going to be a mini fridge.
“It’s going to be great.”
Safadi rejected Altfield’s description of herself as a normal student, saying that only 6 percent of UCF females were in Greek life.
Altfield rejected Safadi’s stance and said that greek students were the same as every other UCF student.
Regarding leadership experience, Nassereddin said his move to America in the hopes of becoming a doctor gave him the confidence he needs to serve as vice president.
Near the end of the debate, the moderator Whitney Barnes asked both candidates what advancements they would offer to reunite and advance the UCF community.
Clemente said the UCF community has always been a one-Knight nation and that he’d lobby for UCF for receive rising pre-eminence, a legislative proposal that grants rising public universities half the funding pre-eminent universities receive.
Safadi answered the question by asking the audience to refer to his Facebook page: Make UCF Great Again.
Harry Sayer is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.