Q&A with UCF presidential candidates Richard & Mo
On Thursday, candidates Richard Stein & Mo Barhamje announced their candidacy for student body president and vice president, respectively. The Central Florida Future caught up with the candidates to discuss their campaign plans.
Central Florida Future: What is your campaign slogan, and what is its significance to you?
Stein: It's "Stand for Students." We wanted to make it as simple as possible. From the motivation aspect, we want students to know that we're running for them. We're inspired by the average student — the guy or girl going to UCF, because they wanna get a job when they graduate. We're inspired by the single father, the single parents going to school full time.
CFF: What do you hope to accomplish if elected? What are some of your platform points?
Stein: So basically, if elected, we wanna make sure that students at UCF have the tools and resources to succeed in life. If elected, we wanna focus on jobs, we wanna focus on providing the tools they need to succeed, and we wanna incorporate the student public into SGA.
First and foremost, an easy solution is we would revamp the [SGA] website, to simply make the data more accessible to the student public. One of our big platform initiatives is a program called My Alumni, which is an online portal that you would access through my.ucf.edu, and which you would connect UCF alumni to current UCF students.
Barhamje: Our primary objective right now is focusing on jobs, post-college. I feel that SGA, compared to other schools in Florida, are significantly lacking in providing that opportunity to students. What we hope to accomplish is primarily that: focusing on jobs, linking UCF students to alumni, among other things, of course, but that's mainly what we wanna do.
CFF: What organizations have you been involved with on and off campus?
Stein: I started at UCF my first year, my first semester, I was on the UCF Mock Trial Team, I was a defense attorney. I was also on the advisory council for Counseling & Psychological Services, also known as CAPS. I've been active with FMA [Financial Management Association] — I was VP of marketing for FMA. Outside of school, I was a benefit operations administrator with Aon Hewitt. After that, I worked for Florida House of Representatives' Joe Saunders. Starting in January 2014, I was accepted into CITI Group's placement program, in which I did a six-month internship in financial risk for [its] Latin American Division. After that, I got involved with the College Work Experience Program, which is a UCF program, where I'm contracted to work at Lockheed Martin, and I work on business development for missiles and fire control where I act as a business development analyst.
Barhamje: For four years, I was a researcher at a bacteriology lab in the biomedical department. I actually started in high school, I actually grew up here in Orlando. So, I started in high school and it carried into an internship through college for two years, actually. And I actually own two businesses: I am a web developer; I buy websites off the market and resell them and I am an internet marketer for many clients in Orlando and all over the world, actually.
How do you plan on strengthening the relations between SGA and the student body?
Stein: I think it comes from being genuine. Students aren't stupid. Mo and I, we walk the street, you know, we're not sitting in fancy offices in SGA headquarters all day. When we're campaigning, we're going out in the street, we're talking with students. The thing that they [students] complain about the most is bull [expletive]. They think that it's bull[expletive] that the parking garage was closed during finals week. They think it's bull[expletive] that SGA doesn't provide them with enough career services. When we talk to students, that's the No.1 thing they bring up.
To bridge that gap, we wanna have website transparency, we wanna have portals which provide direct connection between the UCF public and Mo and I. So, if you have a complaint — something funny, what we wanna do is a Bull[expletive] Commission, you know, and that's [would be] a direct portal on the SGA website. If you wanna file a complaint, if you want us to look into something, then you have direct access to us. We also wanna have the ability for students to voice their concerns and report actions of harassment.
Barhamje: We feel that students are completely disgruntled with the current administration and we like the fact that we can say that we're not associated with the current SGA — we're looking to reform SGA as it is. As you know, I'm a website developer, and I'm not sure if you've looked at the SGA website, but we have, and I personally, from an objective point of view, it looked like a load of bull[expletive] to me. You can't find anything on there, a lot of information that should be transparent and readily available to students, is inaccessible on there.
Nada Hassanein is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @nhassanein_or email her at NadaH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.