Meet the Female Executive Candidates of This Semester’s SG Election

Spring elections are upon us here at UF. Unlike Fall elections, this one is much more important because it’s when we elect our new student body president, vice president, and treasurer. This is actually a big deal because we choose who gets to run our student government (SG), who controls millions of dollars, and also who we choose to represent us. Those three executive positions are significant because they earn salaries in their positions. Also, the president holds a seat on the board of trustees. Like I said, it’s a big deal.

UF SG also has a party system, with the main two parties being Impact Party, the older party established in the Fall 2015 semester, and Inspire Party, the party that emerged in the Fall 2017 semester.

For the first time in two years, Impact has put a woman on their executive ticket. Sarah Abraham is a 21-year-old information systems and operation management junior with minors in real estate and leadership and is the Impact pick for Vice President. For Inspire, this is the second year in a row they’ve put a woman on their ticket. Gouthami Gadamsetty, a 20-year-old industrial and systems engineering junior, is the Inspire pick for Vice President. They’re both Indian women, guaranteeing that a woman will be in office and that we will elect the first ever Indian American vice president (unless a write-in somehow wins).

Sarah Abraham: Impact Vice President candidate

Gouthami Gadamsetty: Inspire Vice President candidate

I found it really special that both of the VP candidates were women and wanted to interview both. I sat down with both candidates separately and asked them questions about this race.

Q: What’s your first measure or plan of action you want to do if you win?

Sarah Abraham (SA): "An important thing for me to do is make more moves for Asian students on campus. The Hispanic-Latinx and Black communities have been doing so much on campus, so it’s time for the APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) community to do something big. I want to bring more APIDA resources on campus like more professors for Asian studies and the APIDA Institute. Hopefully I can be on the task force for getting an APIDA Institute.

My big goal is to make campus more inclusive, and it’s amazing that a woman will be guaranteed to be in office this year. I also want to bring more women representation like speakers to empower students."

Gouthami Gadamsetty (GG): "I think the first thing I wanna do is improve our cabinet system. One: making sure that we one for graduate students that are filled with graduate students, and one for transfer students since we do not have one for them right now. We are the biggest school in the state of Florida, and I’m pretty we are one of the few, if not the only school in the state without a cabinet for transfer students, which is crazy because we’re next to Santa Fe and we have a bunch of students coming from there and we should be prioritizing our students."

"Also, going through our cabinets and making sure we are running things efficiently. I think it’s really important to go back to the basics and make sure the people that are filling these roles are people who truly understand the gators they are trying to serve and have tangible plans once they’re directors of the cabinet. From what I’ve heard from the LGBTQ Cabinet is that there isn’t much outreach and students haven’t been connecting to the cabinet. As a multicultural person, I have never interested with the multicultural cabinet and I have been involved in SG for a while. I will say, one of the cabinets that has been doing well is the Multifaith Cabinet who does a lot of programs to reach more students. The Innovation Academy Cabinet director has also done a lot of programs for their students as well. We need to emulate the footsteps of successful cabinets."

Q: What do you hope to accomplish through this election?

SA: "That students understand the power of their voice and actually come out to vote, especially since SG funds so much on campus and their tuition goes towards it. I also want for there to be more representatives of different minorities on campus, whether it’s through Student Government Productions performers or Accent speakers, representation is super important."

GG: "I want to get students more engaged in the election. I think that our efforts with canvassing are great and we are out there from 9-6 everyday. Students pay a lot of money to SG and a lot of them don’t realize it. They might’ve heard of the budget SG has, but some of the students don’t even know about it, let alone they’re contributing thousands of dollars during their time at UF. It’s important to get students across campus engaged with it. I want more students to know about this and how important their voice is in SG and get them more engaged. I also want to reach out to every single student and not just listen to the loudest voices in the room."

Q: What are you the most excited for about this election?

SA: "What I’m really excited for is for students to get to know us and understand why we are qualified to hold these positions but beyond that I’m even more excited to be reaching and getting to know everyone else along the process. We are excited to go out into every corner of this diverse university and speak to them on issues they face and how we can help them enhance their experience."

"I guess I’m also excited for those couple of months right before end of the year, where if I win, I won’t be a senator anymore and will have more time.  I would become more involved with the community with ISA (Indian Student Association) since I won’t be in office and planning out projects and starting off right by being preemptive. ISA has been my community that I call home, especially being a part of the Asian minority on campus."

GG: "Election days, for sure, because that’s truly when there’s so much adrenaline going on. Students who didn’t necessarily have the time to come out and canvas before will come out on the Tuesday and Wednesday of elections. Even if they only have ten minutes they will come out and talk to students. It just feels like there is so much possibility on those days and anything can happen. There is a lot of positive energy and a sense of family that emerges from working with these people for so long. During the three and a half weeks where we campaign, you meet so many people and so many new faces who join at every step. It’s also when we reach the most students and just talk to them and say 'In this moment, you can make a difference and be heard.'"

Q: We hear cases of faculty being sexist happening on campus to the point of where it’s expected, but nothing is being done about it especially in cases where the faculty member has tenure. Then there’s just sexism among students. What do you think can and should be done about it?

SA: "I personally have never been sexually assaulted or experienced sexism on campus myself. It’s a big deal that we should do something about because it affects the people around us. We want to make our campus a more inclusive place. It’s a big deal that we should do something about because it affects people around us. For faculty, our party wanted to do a diversity training for faculty so that faculty can become more inclusive, which is not seen on our platform. This can lead to possible collaboration with MCDA (Multicultural and Diversity Affairs) for all parts of campus, which can mean Greek life, student orgs, faculty and more, which can be hard to do because of how big UF is."

GG: "I think we have to put more pressure and make sure we’re holding every single person accountable. From every student on campus. You joined this community of Gators, so you have this expectation to be a good human being. We have to put more pressure on faculty to keep them accountable, even if they have tenure, it doesn’t mean that they’re doing the right thing during all of their time here. I think it should start with the administration, specifically the administration of each college, because I feel like if we go too far up in the hierarchy, like Kent Fuchs, it doesn’t reach the rest of the campus like we want. An example would be the email that Dr. Taylor Curtis sent to the college of engineering today about helping students who are facing homelessness. I though that was amazing. Working with people like that who want to help the students will be a great help to keeping faculty accountable. I don’t think that going through a course about sexism will solve the problem. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just isn’t enough. Change really comes from internal pressure. A culture of accountability is something we should create at UF."

Q: What specifically would you like to do for women on our campus?

SA: "During my time with Impact Party, she has always felt empowered no matter what position I have been in. Women already face many challenges on the basis of their gender, so we have to provide the resources to them so that they can feel empowered like I have been. I want to work on a Sexual Assault Awareness week so that we can make the resources regarding sexual assault known to students, especially women. I want to add more blue emergency lights across campus and also implement a reporting system, both of which Impact has been working on.

If I get elected as VP, I want to take advantage of the Women’s Affairs Cabinet especially since the VP oversees all of the cabinet. It’s a great resource we have and I want to do more with it. I also want to work more with the Women’s Student Association, especially since they’re one of the Big 9 organizations on campus. We could do more events with them, and like the cabinet, they’re a great resource as well."

GG: "We have a Women’s Affairs Cabinet already but also we have really awesome organizations on campus specific to different majors and different backgrounds that are specific to women. It would be awesome to bring all these people together and hold events for them throughout the semester. Like in engineering, there’s the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and the engineering sorority Phi Sigma Rho who does really cool stuff like service and professional events, but I didn’t know about this stuff  until later in my college career.

Just getting all of these resources together and holding bigger events for all of the students would be amazing, making sure that people of all genders are invited because we want to be more inclusive. I also have realized during my time in leadership that people don’t intentionally try to be sexist. I surrounded myself with women, but I did not intentionally do that. Like when men are in leadership roles, they don’t realize they are excluding a big group of people. It’s a larger and harder issue that should be addressed."

Q: How would you support other minorities on campus?

SA: "Being a minority student in a PWI (primarily white institution), if I’m VP I will be breaking down barriers that minorities face. I would work to empower minorities on campus to help alleviate the disparities they face. What’s nice about my party is that we welcome all minorities, which can be very empowering. Like I said before, I really do want to bring representatives of different minorities so that other students can see someone else who is like them and have a role model they can look to. I also want to advocate for more APIDA resources, like I said before. With that, I would like to support students finding their own place on campus with established safe spaces. Students should have a place they feel comfortable in and not have fear because of their identity."

GG: "For generally reaching out to marginalized communities on campus, I thought that the Bridges program that Impact started was a great initiative. However, the issue was that they didn’t have sustainable funding because of the 800 codes (the codes that dictate how SG can spend their money). Because of it, it might be closing down, but I don’t want that to happen because I truly think it’s a great program."

Q: Do you feel that the points on your platform are attainable?

SA: "A platform is like a contract to the students. If we say we can do something, we have to follow through. Actually there are boards in SG that track the administration’s platform and see if they’re actually following through on it. One of the things that Impact has placed on their platform was for bringing summer Bright Futures to fruition, which we actually did accomplish. I do think we can attain all the points on our platform and it would greatly enhance a student’s life here at UF."

GG: "Inspire has an entire team dedicated to policy who goes through weeks researching policies. They even go as far back as ten years to see what policies past parties have had. Since we have a whole entire team for it, we don’t want to put something on our platform that we know that we can’t attain and accomplish, which would be an empty promise to the students. We just need a little bit of help getting there by people coming out and voting for us."

Q: There are menstrual hygiene dispensers on campus, but it is still inaccessible for all. Is this something you’d be willing to push further?

SA: "I want to expand the areas that menstrual products are available. The problem is that the 800 codes prevent the purchasing of single use products like menstrual products. Honestly, it’s at the top of everyone’s agenda in SG. If I win, I hope to work more for this initiative. Impact is also working with the library boards to have menstrual products in them."

GG: "Definitely I’d push it further. There are many hoops to jump through. One of the hardest things was getting funding for it because there is a code against funding single-use products, but we like have figured it out now. Now it’s just making sure that we put them in the right places. I think it’s important to put them in like the family/all gender bathrooms and not just the women’s bathroom to make it accessible for all. We definitely have to push it more. It’s been a rough uphill battle to get where we are now, but now that we’re able to get it in a place other than the Reitz and the Infirmary, we can work to get it in other places. Like we are working with the advisory boards of both libraries to get it in there too."

Q: Lib West or Marston or third party study space?

SA: "Law Library, definitely. I used to love Marston Basement because of how social it is, but the Law Library has stolen my heart."

GG: "During the day, definitely third floor Lib West. The evening? Marston Basement. At night, Newell when nobody is there."

 

Here it is. A candid look at the women on the SG executive tickets. Make sure you vote on February 19th & 20th from 8:30AM to 8:30PM. You can find polling locations here. All you need to vote is your UFID. Please make your voice heard! So much of your money goes towards SG, which means that you should have a say in it!