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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Guest Commentary

2015 SGA elections: Choosing the right man for the job

Beginning today and lasting until Thursday, the Student Government Association will be taking votes from UH students for the student body’s next president and vice-president. There are three parties, three different men, to consider for the role of SGA President at the University. So choose well, Coogs.

The “We” Party II

Presidential candidate Elisha Diaz:

It’s Aug. 26, 2013 — it’s pouring rain, and I have just arrived at the University of Houston. My friend Yvar Carcases was kind of enough to let me carpool with him.

I did not want to be here. Ending up at my last choice for college was not something I had in mind for my future.

My sister, a Duke graduate, felt the same way when she entered the home of the Blue Devils. Hoping she could give me advice, because this was reality and I had no other viable choice, I went to her. She told me, “Give it a chance. Sometimes even though you don’t end up where you want to be, you fall in love with it.”

I ended up joining about 30 student organizations to try and give UH a shot. After joining many ultimate frisbee games and many meetings for the Filipino Students Association, Vietnamese Students Association, Muslim Student Association and Student Program Board, it happened.

UH got on a broom and completely swept me off my feet; I fell in love with the University and all the people here. Along came fellow Coogs that I am beyond happy to have in my life, such as Aaron Arambula, Phillip Garcia, everyone in Moody Towers and just about anyone I have said “hello” to on campus. I took my sister’s advice, and it was the best I have ever received.

The accumulation of all this is the reason I want to be the Student Government Association President. UH is like my family; it supports me, and I want to support it in any way that I can.

I want to make the dining halls amazing and make parking more efficient; I want to grow the sense of community in the Pride and ensure that the University administration knows that they work for us and answer to us. With my leadership, we can lead side-by-side and make UH the best school for us.

I am the best candidate for president because I have something that the other two candidates lack: I am approachable. I will be the president that students can talk to directly.

Being your president will put me in that position, and I will succeed at it because I will lead with you — not ahead of you. I will be a president of the people, the student body and the Pride.

Vice-presidential candidate Solida Chem:

On behalf of the students, Elisha and I have decided to run to help with issues left unsolved. On a daily basis, there are complaints from students, yet no one seizes to bring it to attention; upon hearing this, we truly wanted to help the community feel safer and happier with their college experience.

Since we are underclassmen, we relate with many of our fellow classmates that stay on campus and are more alert to events that affect us all. After our term, we will still be students for several more years, so we’re aiming for the best experience possible for each and every one of us.

We are currently affiliated with the “We” Party and stand true to their slogan, “We the people, we the students.” We are all students on this campus, and we are what makes the campus our home.


Presidential candidate Sam Perez:

From the beginning, both (vice presidential candidate Josh Selvidge) and I wanted to run for the sole purpose to represent the everyday, hard working UH student. With the history of serving our community and country, we are dedicated to making the University a better place for not only our city but both current and future students.

To help improve the University, we plan on better security on campus and more food options to improve campus living appeal. Also, we want to address parking and road issues on campus so to improve the experience of the commuter student.

Finally, our university is been known to have a low graduation rate. To improve these statistics, we want to make an easier path to graduation by improving and increasing academic advising and making on campus jobs more accessible to many students.

Furthermore, Josh and I would like to improve SGA awareness to the student body so that the students could be more involved in solving and addressing issues on campus.


Presidential candidate Shaun Smith:

Student Government Association election season has returned. The candidates — myself included — are campaigning, and many students are collectively asking the question: What does SGA even do, anyway?

Shared governance in higher education is considered a pillar of academic freedom and this University strives to bring stakeholders — students, faculty and staff — to the table to inform decisions that affect the campus population; however, we don’t always get those decisions right.

Representing over 40,000 students with “part-time” student representatives in high turnover positions is an imperfect practice — having served as the Speaker of the Senate and Senator for the past two years has made that clear to me.

Yet, there remains a mandate for student leaders who can be firm representatives and advocate for student needs, even when it may be unpopular with the University administration. This has been especially evident in recent months with the spotlight on administrative choices that were particularly unfavorable to student interests.

Do I feel that it is appropriate for us to call for the resignation of any university employee? Absolutely not. However, it is unequivocally our duty to keep the administration and our fellow student leaders accountable.

Tanzeem Chowdhury and I have chosen to lead the REDvolution party — a party that stands for the evolution of student government from the work of former administrations, and that change revolves around you, the student body.

Being a good student body president requires collaboration and consensus, as well as a distinct drive to empower others with the resources to accomplish their goals. Our party and I bring this passion and we know that the SGA isn’t about politics — it’s  simply student advocacy; that’s what empowering the pride is all about.

I encourage you to check out the other candidates, and I look forward to seeing you at the polls on the election days this week.

Vice-presidential candidate Tanzeem Chowdhury:

As a Senior Resident Advisor and Resident Advisor for the past three years, there has been a wealth of experiences that make me proud to be a Cougar. But one thing in recent memory is especially prominent, and that was the day Shaun Smith and I decided to step up and run for something that can make an impact on this campus.

We don’t want to just lead; we want to empower students that are passionate, dedicated and willing to step up and make a difference by sticking through to the end.

If the constant rain wasn’t bad enough, near freezing temperatures along with a chilly wind made up for it. Neither Shaun Smith nor I was planning to freeze in such a manner in Fort Worth.

We were standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the row closest to the field at the Armed Forces Bowl in our student section. The game didn’t start off bad for us actually, and by half time, we were only down by 11 points.

The game went out of hands pretty quickly and with four minutes left, we were down 34-13. That’s when we witnessed magic, determination — and the largest comeback in regulation bowl game history. We scored three touchdowns and recovered two on-side kicks in less than three minutes.

When we took a one-point lead with less than a minute to go, we all leaped for joy. That was our first lead of the game and Shaun turned towards for me for a high five, but I gave him a hug instead.

We had .07 percent chance of winning at the start of the fourth quarter. But it wasn’t 0.0 percent and by the time clock hit zero, UH won the bowl game that nobody in the country thought we could win. Believe, hope and progress must come from within.

There’s never been a better time to be a cougar! Y’all know whose house it is! It’s time for us to take that next step! One group, one team, one University – Go Coogs!

[email protected]

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