Q&A with new SGA leaders Clemente and Altfield
Following weeks of campaigning during one of UCF’s most controversial elections, Christopher Clemente and Rachel Altfield were announced the winners of the Student Government Association’s presidency and vice presidency March 30.
During their bid, Clemente and Altfield overcame allegations of campaign violations, which they successfully appealed, and pulled through with a major victory, earning 67.7 percent of the 3,670 votes cast.
But who are the students behind these government policies and campaign promises?
The Central Florida Future chatted with Clemente and Altfield to gain new insight into these student body leaders and find out what UCF can expect from them in the future.
Where are you from? Why did you decide to come to UCF?
Altfield: I’m from Miami, Florida. I decided to come to UCF because my sister went here, so I got to see the campus differently than other campuses … I just fell in love with this campus the most.
Clemente: Similarly to Rachel, my older brother also came to UCF. When I visited him, I fell in love with the campus … I really came to understand that this university stands for opportunity and I couldn’t have passed that up.
What is your family like? Do you have any siblings?
C: I have an older brother who’s 23. I have a younger sister who’s 8, and my youngest sister is 4 and I’m 20. I come from a very big family and a very diverse family.
A: It’s just me and my sister and my two parents. We’re a pretty traditional family.
What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?
C: I’m definitely a bookworm. I love, love, love reading. Over winter break, I try to go through as many books as possible.
A: I’m in a sorority, so I have a lot of sisters I can hang out with. I really just like to relax. I’m a big Netflix fan, like the typical college student. [laughs]
What is your favorite thing to binge watch on Netflix? Do you have a favorite television show or movie?
A: I’m pretty basic I want to say. [laughs] Right now, I’m rewatching Gossip Girl for maybe the fifth time. And I love One Tree Hill and the basic teenage girl shows we saw growing up.
C: I usually have The Office just on loop practically. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it. I just always never turn it off.
If you had 10 minutes to talk with anyone in the world, who would it be? What would you want to say to them?
C: I’ll say Stephen Colbert because he’s probably the funniest person I’ve ever seen. I just love the guy … and he’s just a devout Catholic, such a funny guy and so politically engaged, and I admire him for those three things … He’s so passionate and knowledgeable, and I definitely strive to emulate that. I’d love to sit down with him and pick his brain.
A: I would definitely say Ellen DeGeneres. I just love watching her show because she gives back as much as she can … she really makes a difference in peoples’ lives … I really look up to her and admire her for that.
Why did you decide to run for SGA office?
C: I definitely decided to run because I wanted to continue to contribute to the student body … after being in the cabinet for two years, I couldn’t really figure out another way to do that. I figured, “Why not run?” I have the experience. I have the knowledge, but above all I have the passion for the university and these students.
A: I wanted the chance to give back to the university that has given me so much. Being on the senate … I’ve got to help RSOs, and I’ve seen the impact I’ve made … After my experience at UCF, I wanted to take that one step further and contribute to the whole entire university.
How long have you known each other? When did you decide to run together?
C: It was pretty easy to believe in Rachel. I saw her passion for this university … it’s just truly amazing to see her as a senator and see her work so zealously for students and I knew I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side.
A: So around September I think it was, I was approached by someone else to run with them … it wasn’t something I has thought about until they approached me … I respectfully declined the offer just because I didn’t think that this person would be a great student body president. I already knew Chris was wanting to run … I had met him through SGA ... I knew this was something he had on his mind … and then Chris approached me and asked me and we both took some time to think about it. It’s not something you want to say yes to automatically. It took me a long time ... I had to make these decisions and I’m so happy that I did … I’m so grateful for this opportunity and for Chris to believe in me this much.
What do you want to accomplish? What legacy would you like to leave?
C: Definitely a legacy of safety and transparency … We really want to leave our mark on this university so students can feel safer … so they can do what they’re here to do and that’s learn.
A: I agree with everything Chris said. Transparency has definitely been a big issue during this election season, and that’s something we care about and want to have while we’re in office.
What can students expect from both of you during this coming year?
C: I think they can expect to be engaged and be informed on what student government is doing and how and why we’re doing it. That’s one of the goals … and just as a whole, Rachel and I are excited to be meeting with as many students as possible during our tenure … we want to engage with students and share with them in a completely new and intimate way.
Deanna Ferrante is a digital producer with the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.