Student government presidential, gubernatorial candidates discuss their different platforms

The University Press sat down with the candidates to learn about their experiences, future plans, and unique qualities.

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Student government presidential, gubernatorial candidates discuss their different platforms

Elections will be held this week for the 2019-2020 term. Photo by Hope Dean

Elections will be held this week for the 2019-2020 term. Photo by Hope Dean

Elections will be held this week for the 2019-2020 term. Photo by Hope Dean

Elections will be held this week for the 2019-2020 term. Photo by Hope Dean

Israel Fontoura, Student Government Editor

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Tomorrow, students will be able to vote to decide who their next Student Government leaders will be — a choice that influences how SG’s $8 million budget, which is taken out of students’ own pockets, is spent.

This year’s election features three candidates for both the presidential and gubernatorial offices.

For the past few weeks, on-campus organizations have hosted several debates and panels to let candidates voice their platforms. In case you missed them, here’s a rundown of what each candidate would change about FAU.

Student Government elections for all campuses will be held this upcoming Tuesday, Feb. 26 at midnight to Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 11:59 p.m. You can vote on Owl Central.

Presidents

President: Kevin Buchanan, SG’s chief financial officer
VP: Celine Persaud, associate director of the Council of Student Organizations

Kevin Buchanan and Celine Persaud. Photo courtesy of Buchanan’s Instagram

What do you plan on accomplishing?

Buchanan said he plans on “making the life of a student easier by giving them all the resources they could ever need to successfully pass their classes, do as well they can, and make the most of their experience here.”

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Buchanan formerly served in the House of Representatives as a Ways and Means committee chair, and was a Campus Budget Allocation Committee (CBAC) chairman. He believes he has more experience than the other candidates because of these positions, and he knows the importance of learning and making connections with administration and students, he said.

What is one of your favorite things about FAU?

Buchanan loves FAU’s organizations.

“Not only does an [organization] bring people together with interest, it brings people together entirely,” he said.

Buchanan said that he’s made lifelong friends and memories through his involvement with on-campus organizations.

What’s something about FAU you would like to see changed?

Buchanan believes that most students aren’t aware of the university’s on-campus events and opportunities, so he wants to provide “marketing for some of our resources … I’m sure there’s still a student out there, buying their scantrons every year when they can get it themselves,” he said.

Describe yourself to voters in three words

Buchanan sees himself as “passionate, experienced, and personable,” he said.

President: Jonathan Marr, former House representative and secretary
VP: Kitana Thomas, Ways and Means chair

Jonathan Marr and Kitana Thomas. Photo courtesy of Kitana Thomas’ Facebook

What do you plan on accomplishing?

Marr wants “more things to make our university such a good well-rounded area, and place to live,” he said.

Marr’s ticket goes by the acronym CARE:

  1. Create thriving campus lifestyles
  2. Assure communication across all six campuses
  3. Reach new and innovative heights
  4. Engage in cultural diversity.

Marr also works with 4Ocean, a beach clean-up organization, and is passionate about the environment. He’s currently working on a green initiative, and said he wants to expand solar panel use on campus, especially with golf carts.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

After leaving student government after two years, “I took time to be a student, and I understood the hardships,” Marr said.

Marr said he has faced housing insecurity while working as a full-time employee, taking a full schedule of college credits, and commuting from Port. St. Lucie to FAU five days a week.

“It’s the idea of being a student, someone who can understand and empathize,” he said.

Marr also attended high school at FAU’s Marine & Oceanographic Academy on the Harbor Branch campus in Fort Pierce.

“I think it molded me into what I really love to do in term of advocating for [environmental] issues,” he said.

What is one of your favorite things about FAU?

Marr likes FAU’s “community lifestyle,” he said — FAU has allowed him to meet many other students and build relationships through campus organizations.

What’s something about FAU you would like to see changed?

Marr would like to see more transparency at the university.

“I think it’s important that FAU students know who their leaders are. They should know who’s representing them,” he said.

Marr also emphasizes that leaders in student government should communicate with the other campuses, not just Boca Raton.

“I want to make sure everyone is proud and honored to go to a school where they feel welcome, appreciated, and that they’re making a difference in their own communities, as well as the university as a whole,” he said.

Describe yourself to voters in three words.

Marr considers himself “ambitious, driven, [and] motivated,” he said.

President: Neasha Prince, president of First and Proud
VP: Leona Robinson, secretary of First and Proud

Neasha Prince and Leona Robinson. Photo courtesy of Neasha Prince and Leona Robinson’s GoFundMe

What do you plan on accomplishing?

Prince wants to change the growing homeless student population on campus by removing the negative stigma and providing hygienic resources.

She also wants to increase the quality of life for students on campus especially students with disabilities who have difficulty accessing FAU’s shuttle and following emergency procedures in dorms.

Ultimately, she wants to “Definitely [make] sure that humanity is at the forefront in whatever we do,” she said.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Prince said it’s a privilege to not be Greek-affiliated because her ticket “can understand what is going on beyond [their] biases on campus.”

Prince and her VP are also both first-generation college students.

“We are putting on a brand new face of what it means to be a part of Student Government,” she said. “It’s time we hit the reset button in terms of how we look at our community and FAU in general.”

Why did you choose to go to FAU?

When deciding upon schools, Prince was unsure of where to attend until she received the Kelly/Strul Emerging Scholars Program scholarship for first-generation students. Once awarded the full-ride scholarship, she saw that FAU cares, she said.

“I realized the mission set forth by FAU, and it really resonated with my heart,” she added.

What is one of your favorite things about FAU?

Prince loves “how small, but big FAU is.”

“In a small aspect I love how easy it is for me to connect with other students, connect with other staff, and connect with other faculty,” she said. “I love how big we’re growing to be.”

What’s something about FAU you would like to see changed?

Prince believes that FAU is growing fast, and “if we’re not careful, certain things could fall through the cracks.”

In regards to resources on campus, Prince says FAU has been “planting the seed” but then walking away from it.

“You have to nurture something, in order for it to grow,” she said. “We need to be aware of what we’re doing. We need to be aware of how we’re nurturing our offices, our community, in order for them to become better.”

Describe yourself to voters in three words

Prince is full of “passion, go-getter, [and] heart,” she said.

Boca Governor

Elijah Colas, director of Multicultural Programming and former House representative

Elijah Colas. Photo courtesy of Elijah Colas’ Facebook

What do you plan on accomplishing?

Colas said his platform includes an improved student food bank, better mental health advocacy, and strengthened active shooter preparedness.

Colas also added that FAU has a lot of resources to offer, so the next step is to invite and involve students.  

“I just want to make our campus safer and greener,” he said. “There’s something about the students being able to have a good student experience. It’s the little things people don’t see or do that matters.”

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Colas believes he has “real experience” to offer.

“I think it’s an overused word, but I think above all, that’s what I bring to the table … I’ve experienced building relationships with those who work on the second floor [of the Student Union], and those who don’t work on the second floor,” he said, referring to the fact that Student Government operates on the second floor of the Student Union.

What is one of your favorite things about FAU?

Colas said that FAU “has so much to offer, and I think that’s taken for granted by a lot of students.”

What’s something about FAU you would like to see changed?

Colas would like to see campus parking improve. He wants to work with the university’s president on the matter and bring e-scooters to campus, which are easy to use and don’t take up as much parking space, he said.

Describe yourself to voters in three words

Colas said that his three words are “fun, personable, and food.”

Javier Bravo, House representative and resident assistant

Javier Bravo. Photo courtesy of Javier Bravo

What do you plan on accomplishing?

Bravo said he wants to provide “more for the student resources on campus,” such as offering free scantrons, printing, and notebooks.

“We need to do more for women on campus, and we need to start providing menstrual products,” he added.

Bravo also wants to include LSAT and MCAT courses for students, increase on-campus student engagement, improve student dining on campus, and enhance school safety with security cameras in parking lots.

But he also wants FAU to get a makeover.

“We need to beautify our campus. We need to make our campus a place where students want to be,” he said. Bravo elaborated that this could be “something as simple as putting up christmas lights in trees at night.”

Off-campus, Bravo plans to talk with city council members about giving FAU students the chance to receive free beach parking passes.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Bravo said that he has “extensive student leadership experience.”

He has been in student government for over a year, and currently serves as a House representative. Before that he was a legislative aid, a CBAC member, and a Ways and Means chair.

Outside of student government, Bravo was an orientation leader and is currently a resident assistant.

“I’m very invested in this campus, our university, and the student body,” he said.

What’s something about FAU you would like to see changed?

While there isn’t much to FAU that Bravo doesn’t like, he does see an opportunity for change.

“I do see a lot of potential for this campus that’s not being realized, and I wanna realize that,” he said.

Describe yourself to voters in three words

Bravo said he is “experienced, passionate, and effective.”

Alexander Zand, external philanthropy chair of Alpha Epsilon Phi, VP of Programming of the Interfraternity Council, Vice President of Outreach for Owls for Israel.

Alexander Zand. Photo courtesy of Alexander Zand’s Facebook

What do you plan on accomplishing?

Zand’s “big thing” is campus safety, he said.

He is currently working to extend the working hours of Night Owls, a student nighttime transportation service, to accommodate the library’s new 24-hour schedule. Zand hopes that this will increase student productivity.

What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Zand believes that not being involved in Student Government is “a plus.”

“I represent the study body, and being in these organizations outside of Student Government gives me the voice for them, and the outside experience,” he said.

What is one of your favorite things about FAU?

Zand enjoys “the morale, the school spirit,” he said.

Describe yourself to voters in three words

Zand’s three words are a phrase: “For the students.”

Other candidates

Jupiter Governor

Nicholas Tyndall. Photo courtesy of Nicholas Tyndall’s Facebook

Palak Shah. Photo courtesy of Palak Shah’s Facebook

Nicholas Tyndall, the incumbent for the Jupiter gubernatorial seat, is running against Palak Shah.

Tyndall’s platform includes improving Night Owls, providing better on-campus lighting, and offering free printing for students.

The UP reached out to Tyndall and Shah but did not hear back in time for publication.

Broward Governor

student government

Melissa Carasa, Broward’s only gubernatorial candidate. Photo courtesy of Melissa Carasa.

The UP previously reported on Melissa Carasa, the only candidate for the Broward gubernatorial seat.

Despite running unopposed, Carasa told the UP she felt it was still important to campaign. Her platform focuses on diversity and and security.

You can cast your votes on Owl Central by logging into your FAU account.

Israel Fontoura is the student government editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, follow @israelofontoura on Twitter or email [email protected].