What follows is a partial transcription of an interview The Daily Cougar conducted with SGA presidential candidate Jeff Syptak. Each of the SGA presidential candidates will be featured in our “Candidate Q&A” series this week.
The Daily Cougar: What are three things voters should know about you?
Jeff Syptak: The first thing would be my experience. I’ve been on both sides of the aisle in SGA. I served as chief of staff during the 47th administration when Prince Wilson was president. I ran last year as a CLASS senator — beat out three people — and I’m currently CLASS senator four. I’m also a member of numerous committees.
When I was the chief of staff, one of the greatest things that I did was the Campus Accessibility Tour, which dealt a lot with the disabled students, also co-chair for homecoming.
Second thing would be that I love the University of Houston. I have a passion for where the University is going, we are moving on to bigger and better things, but in spite of that I have seen students affected by a lot of the changes. There’s a lot of good changes, but students have also felt the negative changes. Regardless of that, if chosen as president I would try to make sure that every student is seen in a fair and in-balance way.
The third thing is I’m just a normal student. I work at Chili’s Grill and Bar in the Willowbrook area, so I commute every day. I’m a commuter. I’m also doing an internship right now with Texas Representative Sylvester Turner … and I come here every day, walk around campus, go to classes. Do the normal student stuff.
TDC: What makes you stand out from the other candidates?
JS: My experience. I think I’ve been more involved in SGA than all the other candidates. This has been my third year. I’ve brought many different ideas to administrators, faculty and staff that haven’t been thought of before.
So I have a lot of fresh ideas; every time I walk into a meeting I look at the situation and figure out what I can do to change it or make it better.
TDC: What would you do as president if elected?
JS: The first thing I would do? Some of the other candidates have mentioned visibility with SGA. It’s not only visibility with SGA, but I want SGA to integrate with a lot more student organizations.
There are organizations that do great things within the community … and they need to be applauded for their efforts and given a lot more resources to help them become better organizations on campus.
So one thing is working with these organizations and informing other students what we have to offer here at the University of Houston.
TDC: How do you plan to find out what the students want and make sure you represent that accurately?
JS: When I was in SGA as Chief of Staff, I had an open-door policy. I will make sure that everybody has an open-door policy. If I’m in a meeting, I’ll make sure someone is there. As far as accountability, I tell people that if you need me, contact me through all the media that I have provided: Cell phone, email text. I will make sure that if you have a problem, you’ll be taken care of.
Students come to me, and their problem will be handled. They’ll never hear the answer ‘no.’ They’ll hear the answer ‘yes.’ I want to ensure that people know if you come to me with your problem, I will take care of you.
TDC: Why did you decide to run for SGA president?
JS: I’m running because there are students out there who don’t know what the University has to offer. Students just come here, go to class, maybe get involved with one organization, then they go home.
I really want students to understand the tradition, the history of where we’ve been at the University and where we’re going, because we’re moving to bigger and better places.
You have to understand the quality that students pay for and the quality of the programs that we’re producing is actually accurate.
TDC: What is the most important thing SGA has done in the past administration?
JS: Tough question. It depends on who you ask. I’ve asked that to students before. The one thing that I know I’ve seen since being chief of staff is that the current chief of staff — who is one of my opponents — has increased the visibility of the internship program, but other than that I really can’t name one thing.
The effort of those people actually stepping up and taking a more proactive role rather than just sitting there and just saying yea or nay to small things has inspired a lot more people to run.
Getting people involved has been one of the greatest contributions of the SGA.
TDC: Being the SGA president is going to be a big job — it’s going to take a lot of time. How are you going to find the necessary time to devote to the job?
JS: I like to multitask. I like to be engaged in everything I can. I will be cutting back from work at Chili’s, and I will make sure that students understand that if I’m not in the office, they know where to find me. My schedule will be posted. I want to make sure students are taken care of. Students are top priority. If I have to leave an event to take care of a student, I will.
For more information on this and other candidates, go to thedailycougar.com/tags/sga2012.