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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

A link will be sent to all FSU students on March 1, allowing them to vote between seven a.m. and eight p.m. This election season is crucial because the positions of the student body will be decided: President, Vice President and Treasurer. Erick Rivers, Kaela Braxton and Megan Bettley are all a part of the student government (SGA) party Surge and will be running for student body positions. Erick Rivers is running for President, Kaela Braxton is running for Vice President and Megan Bettley is running for Treasurer. I had the opportunity to talk to the three of them and learn about what makes them qualified for their respective positions.

Her Campus (HC): Why did you all decide to run for your respective student body positions?

Erick Rivers (ER): I decided to run for Student Body President because I’ve noticed how people perceive our SGA. They see us as a group of crazy students who are power-hungry and name-tag chasers. I’ve also seen how the office takes the passion out of our Student Body Presidents. Passionate leaders who are at the forefront of campus seem to lose their drive to be the ones leading the charge. That is why SGA needs to reinvent itself and that’s what I hope to provide.

Kaela Braxton (KB): As someone who has always been heavily involved in activism, I wanted to make a meaningful change on campus and felt that being Student Body Vice President would give me the platform to amplify voices that have historically been silenced or disregarded. I knew that running with Surge FSU in particular would allow me to advocate for issues that truly matter and that affect students.

Megan Bettley (MB): I decided to run for Student Body Treasurer because of my experiences in the Student Senate and various other organizations on campus. I have had the distinct honor to serve in the Student Senate for the past two years, making me one of the most senior senators. I currently serve as the Chair of the Budget Committee, and I was the Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee before that. I have participated in two budget allocations of $14.6 million, and one sweeping allocation of over $580,000. I also served on the Student Academic Programs (SAP) funding committee.

Throughout all these funding-based experiences, I have noticed a serious need for reforms. Our current budget process is not sustainable, and there is not enough money for all our student organizations. While serving as the Budget Chair during the allocation process, I saw first-hand the setbacks that arise when funding organizations. There is a lack of financial education on our campus. Many students do not know what the student government does, or how much money we control.

HC: What would you say is the ‘central issue’ you would like to focus on as Student Body President?

ER: There are two issues that I will stay passionate about even if this election doesn’t go in my favor. The protection of our LGBTQ+ students, specifically our trans students who are always under a microscope and getting targeted for baseless attacks. Plus, the protection of our Diversity, Equality and Inclusion programs here at Florida State University and the state of Florida in its entirety. Most students don’t know that with the legislation coming down from the State, our agencies, where many students find their community at Florida State, are under attack and are possibly facing abolishment. The State Capitol and the Governor’s mansion are right down the street from us. If I win, I would ensure that our State Government knows the position of the almost 50,000 students that attend this university.

HC: How does your experience as president of Surge prepare you for Student Body President?

ER: My experience as Chair of Surge puts me in a unique position. As Chair, I see things that other people don’t know about, such as how SGA works and how the SGA parties on-campus work. I have heard countless SGA horror stories so I know what the problem is in SGA and I have an understanding of how to fix it. Whether that be stopping people from working against each other, stopping people from joining SGA for their own interests or removing people from positions who don’t care about the power they hold and are not working to do anything for the student body.

HC: What is one way in which you would propose to increase opportunities to become involved in SGA for students?

ER: Many students believe the only way to get into SGA is by running in our elections. While that is a large chunk of positions in SGA, we have countless numbers of agencies, bureaus, institutions and various other means for students to join SGA. I myself joined SGA by joining Class Councils. Look where I am now. As Student Body President, I would vow to make sure that my Executive Cabinet is not just made up of members of my party. I would also vow to make sure that leadership all around SGA is diverse.

HC: What would you say is the ‘central issue’ you would like to focus on as Student Body Vice President?

KB: The central issue that I would like to focus on as Student Body Vice President is amplifying the voices of minority students on campus. As an African American woman on campus, in the past, I have felt like my voice wasn’t always as valued as others. I know that other minority students have felt the same and I hope to combat these feelings of feeling left out by creating initiatives that ensure that all students’ voices are heard.

HC: How does your experience as the president of the Black Law Students Association prepare you for Student Body Vice President?

KB: As President of the Black Law Students Association, C.S.D. I have worked very closely with student organizations and agencies from both FSU and FAMU. I have worked hard to provide resources to prelaw students who haven’t necessarily had access to these resources before. I’ve made it my mission to provide Black prelaw students with a headstart in the law field, a field that has historically not been welcoming to our community. As Student Body Vice President, it will be my job to work very closely with the agencies on campus to ensure that their voices and concerns are heard. Throughout my time in leadership positions at FSU, I’ve acquired the necessary skills to effectively communicate and lead groups of people.

HC: What is one way in which you would like to increase inclusivity on campus?

KB: I would like to establish a system where we have liaisons from different minority and student groups on campus who would directly bring their populations’ concerns to SGA. Too many students either do not know what SGA is or feel out of touch with it. I want to bridge the gap between our very diverse student body population and SGA and give minority students the opportunity to have their voices heard on campus.

HC: What would you say is the ‘central issue’ you would like to focus on as Student Body Treasurer?

MB: As a preeminent research university, it is important that students have opportunities to present their own research and network with professionals. After speaking with some graduate students, it seems as though both undergraduate and graduate students are having difficulty funding conferences. While the budget will most likely stay the same, completing an audit would enable me to see how organizations and departments are spending their money.

HC: How does your experience as Budget Chair prepare you for Student Body Treasurer?

MB: I have had the opportunity to participate in two Budget allocations, which gave me a unique perspective. During my first Budget allocation in October of 2021, I helped determine what organizations should be funded. I enjoyed being able to have an active say in how the money was spent.

This past October, I participated in my second Budget allocation. As Chair, it was my responsibility to contact all the budgeted entities, organize the hearings and lead the process. From this perspective, I noticed that there are much needed reforms. I have been an active voice in the Senate, calling for fiscal responsibility to ensure that our $14.6 million is well spent. One of the major aspects of the Student Body Treasurer position is to complete budget requests for the Executive Branch, Student Academic Programs and the SAFE Connect program. I have the experience, and the drive, to ensure that students’ money is being well-spent.

HC: What is one program that you would like to see improved/expanded?

MB: I would love to see the Student Academic Program (SAP) expanded. Every year, there is a SAP committee that allocates money to eligible organizations. This year, only two organizations applied for funding through SAP. Overall, there needs to be more inclusive opportunities for funding in SGA, and I have noticed that a lot of the RSOs we fund have some sort of relationship with SGA already. I want to ensure that all RSOs are aware of the opportunities they have to receive funding.

At the end of the interview, I asked each of them if there was anything else they would like voters to know:

ER: When it comes to who you are going to vote for, take a look at what each party is fighting for.

KB: I am dedicated to working with students to make sure their concerns and voices are heard and uplifted. We have strength in numbers and now, more than ever, it’s important that we band together to ensure the preservation of our diverse student body.

MB: I want to inform all students of HB 999. This House Bill will essentially remove diversity, equity and inclusion programs at Florida universities. On March 7, we will be at the Capitol opposing this bill. HB 999 is extremely dangerous and I ask that you all research this bill and look for protests or walkouts in your area.

Remember to vote on March 1 between seven a.m. and eight p.m. to make sure that your voice is heard in this upcoming election.

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Hi! I am a student at Florida State University. My pronouns are she/they and I am a part of the LGBTQ+ community! My first and foremost goal is to share information that I feel will benefit everyone and make sure that everyone feels heard and seen.