The fall election day for Florida State’s (FSU) student government has recently passed, filling the senate and other SGA board seats. We’ve all seen the students campaigning on Landis Green for the past couple of weeks, hoping to garner those few extra votes to secure a seat for themselves or their party. Political parties at FSU are not quite as set in stone as our national political parties. Old ones are constantly being replaced with new ones as student interests for SGA change. A new political party arose this past fall called Forward FSU. We sat down with the Chair of the party, Victoria Paul, and the External Vice Chair, Sarah Nemeth, and asked them a few questions about leading Forward.
Her Campus (HC): What inspired you to first get involved with student government at FSU?
Victoria Paul (VP): I was inspired to get involved with student government after witnessing a lack of representation within the space.. I’ve always been one for student advocacy and ensuring that decision-makers knew the opinions of those that they represent. I didn’t feel as though this was happening effectively due to how much disagreement was overshadowing the work that was being done. So, I decided to join SGA and inspire the change I want to see.
Sarah Nemeth (SN): I didn’t come to FSU knowing that I wanted to get involved in student government and didn’t participate in any of the freshman leadership programs. I got involved because a former senator I had just met encouraged me to. My roommate invited me along to a girls’ night with a few of her new sisters early on in my freshman year. When this former senator told me about her experience in the Student Senate, I knew college SGA was something I wanted to be a part of. I applied to run with a party the next day, and my journey began.
HC: In your own words, what is Forward FSU?
VP: Forward FSU is not just a party, it’s a family. It’s a space for student leaders to come together and lean on each other through our growth as individuals. We are here to be the positive folks within SGA and making the important work that we do fun again! By coordinating our efforts across campus, we can ensure that we are achieving the party platform that we’ve shared with the student body while keeping the space welcoming and collaborative!
SN: We were intentional with laying the foundations of Forward so that it could be a space where student leaders could grow and learn. We stand for our values of tradition, advancement and intentionality and we want to use our positions to show the student body that SGA isn’t as scary as it seems. By holding true to this mission, we hope Forward can foster an inclusive community that brings new faces and ideas to SGA, which I think would greatly benefit the FSU community.
HC: Tell me a bit about the process of creating this political party. How did you receive your position? What were some of the challenges you faced?
SN: This party was created during the chaos of Zoom Senate over the summer. On one Wednesday in particular, our meeting ended at almost 2 am. There was a complete lack of respect for our purpose and our fellow Senators and students. This was one of the hardest meetings I’ve had to sit through during my time in the Senate, and I know many Senators would agree. It was from this meeting that the idea of a new party was created, and I got a call from one of my best friends the next morning asking if founding a new party was something I wanted to be a part of.
Victoria Paul, Ariel Trueba and I sat on Zoom calls almost every night for the last month or so of the summer laying the foundations for Forward, discussing our future and building the structure for the board. At this point, I had only served in the Senate for a little over a semester and had only been at FSU for a year and I didn’t know if my voice or opinions were valuable in the creation of Forward. Victoria helped me overcome these feelings, and she quickly became my mentor and one of my best friends.
HC: What are some things you have learned throughout your time in SGA and while working with Forward?
VP: Everyone can be a leader and achieve a goal that they set forth with a tangible plan. Also, the quality of your character is so important. It is easy to get caught up in the bubble of student government. But, if you have a true understanding of your principles and values, they will guide you to be a genuine and authentic person.
SN: Throughout my time in SGA and working with Forward, the biggest thing I have learned about is my why. I can’t even begin to explain how upset I was when I was first inaugurated into the Senate and realized how polarized this space had become. My why is to foster a more positive, understanding environment within SGA and at FSU by working with members of all parties and all backgrounds. We can’t focus on the big issues we have been struggling with on campus until we can do this.
HC: Do you have any advice for students who want to get involved with SGA but don’t know how to?
SN: My biggest piece of advice for students who want to get involved with SGA but don’t know how to is to not be afraid to speak up. If you know someone currently involved in SGA, DM them asking to get coffee. If you don’t know anyone involved in SGA, go to the SGA website, pick someone that serves in a position that interests you, and then reach out. It really helps to sit down with someone who’s been in the game for a while. We’re all so passionate about our positions, and I know any of us would be happy to help students get involved.
Student Government was created with the intention of allowing students’ voices to be heard. A special thanks to Victoria Paul and Sarah Nemeth for sharing their own voices with Her Campus!