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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Student Government

SGA veteran hopes to claim student presidency


Student Government Association presidential candidate Carlos Reyes (front row, second from right) and running mate Matt Davis (front row, center) said communication with the student body is key to leadership. | Patricia Estrada/The Daily Cougar

Improving communication between the student body and the Student Government Association is the main issue on the agenda for presidential and vice-presidential candidates Carlos Reyes and Matt Davis.

Reyes, SGA’s director of finance, said a lack of communication with the student body is SGA’s biggest problem right now and something that needs urgent fixing.

“The main thing is (to) build communication,” said Reyes, who has served two years in SGA. “I want students to know that there is someone they can go to when they need help. Students are not going to care about the SGA if the president is not working for them.”

Reyes said if elected, he would continue to go out and talk to students.

“One of the big things you see when election comes around, is a lot of the candidates going to the different organizations and ask for their support, but once they get in SGA, they never go back to these organizations and ask how they are doing,” Reyes said. “If elected, we want to continue communication with these organizations.”

Davis said it is important for the senate not only say to students “My door is always open,” especially since a lot of the time their doors aren’t open.

“SGA is the voice of the students, and if we are serving students, as student leaders, we need to keep the students informed as it happens, and not wait until the last second,” Davis said. “No student should find out that their tuition is going to be raised one morning from the provost, when SGA knew about it days before.”

Both Reyes and Davis said they would not require senators to hold monthly town halls because these are not effective. Instead they want to see the senators attend meetings of other organizations.

“It is easier for one or three people to change their schedule to attend a meeting, than to expect a large number of people to change theirs to attend one of our town halls,” Davis said. “We cannot expect students to conform to our schedule; we should conform to theirs, he said.

Reyes said one of the things he has noticed with SGA is that people are always quick to say, “Come to my office.” He wants senators to be proactive and look for the issue and see how they can help students, instead of waiting to see who reaches out to them.

“People have things to do and problems of their own,” he said. “So I would say to the senators to go out and look for the problems and not wait for them to come to you.”

Reyes and Davis said that when deciding what issues they wanted to include in their agenda. They came to the conclusion that it had to be realistic, and they could not campaign promise students to solve things they knew they couldn’t. For this reason they said, they are not promising students they will work on tuition increases or parking problems.

“I want to be realistic with the students about the fact that you can’t really fix tuition and parking in one year,” Reyes said. “I don’t want to give false hope to the students. I want to tackle realistic problems, with realistic solutions.”

Davis said it is important that they use their time wisely if elected, since they would only have a year to tackle issues.

“We want to work on things that we can truly change and viably see these changes happening within a year,” he said. “But if we have the opportunity to address certain issues like tuition and parking that traditionally SGA doesn’t have control over, we will take those opportunities as far as we can. If we do have the opportunity to work with state legislature over budget, over tuition, we will definitely do that, 100 percent, but we are not going to utilize our time in the most efficient manner by promising unattainable things that we can’t change.”

They also said they aren’t worried with how many bills they pass in the senate or how much legislation their names are on. Instead, they want to work on SGA taking action on issues the students care about.

“Students want SGA to take action,” Reyes said. “We want to focus on representation, not legislation, and the senators actually doing something for the students, not just writing bills and legislation that will just be archived in the SGA Web site. We want more action from the senate.”

Reyes and Davis said they are not just talking about being proactive; they are acting on it as well.

Reyes has been in contact with officials in the city of Houston to find a way to rebuild Cullen Boulevard, as he said it is a big concern for the student population.

“I want that to be only the beginning,” Reyes said. “I want to be able to offer students something that is tangible that they can see SGA is doing for them.”

He said there hasn’t been much response from city officials, but he is not giving up.

“If I have to drive their car down Cullen, so they can see how awful the street is, then I will,” Reyes said. “See how they like it then when their cars are all messed up.

The candidates have also gotten in contact with local businesses to provide scholarships to students, these $500 scholarships, will be offered at sporting events and are designed to give any student an opportunity to get one, and as a way to help students out with the recent tuition hike.

“With the tuition hike, Carlos and I have found creative ways to combat what the state is doing with tuition,” Davis said. “With our $500 scholarships, that is one way Carlos and I have been able to find a way to give back. We may not be able to fix every students tuition problem, but we are giving every student the opportunity to help offset those tuition increase.”

They are also hoping these will increase school spirit.

In regards to some special privileges some administrators have requested SGA leaders receive, such as a reserved parking lot, Reyes and Davis said they did not need this to fulfill their duties as leaders of the senate, if elected.

“I am no different than any other student,” Davis said. “If no other student is getting a special parking spot or a loft, why should I? I do just fine where I am at now.”

Reyes agreed with Davis.

Both candidates said they wanted to run to make a difference on campus and to give back to students.

“It is not about playing government,” Davis said. “I just want to give back. I have been fortunate enough to be able to get a lot of experiences away from being at UH.”

Davis also said their coalition, Truth for Coogs, is the only coalition that has gone out and surveyed the students on what their biggest concern is.

“If they are not going out there and asking you what your concerns are, how are they supposed to represent you?”  Davis said.

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