Your guide to the 2020 Student Government Election

Elections commissioner Kruti Patel monitors students as they vote for executive officers and senators. Photo credit: Anna Timmons

The student government elections for executive officer and senator positions at the University of Miami began Monday, Feb. 17 at midnight and will run through Thursday, Feb. 20. This year, there are three candidates running for president. Abigail Adeleke and Randy Fitzgerald, the speaker and speaker pro tempore of the student senate respectively, are running on opposing campaigns, competing to make their visions of campus a reality. Andrés Escandón is running an independent campaign for president while Asher Walker is running as an independent candidate for vice president.

The candidates each announced their campaigns on Wednesday, Feb. 5 and have since then been palm-carding around campus and engaging with students at events such as Meet the Candidates hosted at the Rock Plaza on Feb. 6 and Feb. 11 and the student government debate on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Adeleke, a junior majoring in journalism and psychology, is joined by her running mates, prospective vice president Jason Perez and treasurer Amanda Rodriguez, on the “All In” ticket.

Candidates Jason Perez, Abigail Adeleke and Amanda Rodriguez are running to be the next executive officers of student government. Photo credit:

“My team and I are running on a platform of inclusivity, creating spaces for SG to interact with the rest of the student body, and to increase the intellectual and ethnic diversity of SG,” Adeleke said. In doing so, she organized a diverse ticket and group of supporters.

Perez, a junior majoring in political science and communication studies, said that as vice president he hopes to help improve the culture of student government.

“I’m looking forward to a great year of getting stuff done and improving the life of UM students in any way that I can. That’s why I’m ALL IN,” said Perez.

Both Adeleke and Perez have been involved in student government for three years, while Rodriguez, a junior majoring in business legal studies and finance, and the third member of the “All In” ticket, is involved in several other organizations on campus, including Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos and Camp Kesem.

With an outsider’s perspective, Rodriguez stated at the recent debate that she has been able to experience a divide between student government and the student body first-hand, and because of this hopes to prioritize all students’ voices.

Joining Fitzgerald in the “Level Up” campaign are vice president and treasurer candidates Shirley Gelman and Louis Shaw. The goal of their campaign is to take student government to the next level, Fitzgerald said. With over 50 initiatives to do just that, the team hopes to provide changes that will benefit students from all backgrounds and from every part of campus.

Candidates Shirley Gelman, Randy Fitzgerald and Louis Shaw are aiming to 'Level Up' student government with over 50 platform intiatives. Photo credit: Level Up

“Different students have different experiences and different students have different needs. And so we wanted our platform to reflect that there are multiple Miami experiences,” said Fitzgerald, a junior majoring in political science, international studies, economics and history.

Both Perez of the “All in” ticket and Gelman from “Level Up” were members of the Freshman Leadership Council their freshman year. If elected to be the next vice president for the 2020-2021 calendar year, one of them will be responsible for leading FLC, a body of 20 freshman student leaders who work on projects during the school year under the mentorship of experienced members of student government.

Perez said he is qualified for this role due to his experience in project management as an administrative liaison for the past two years. Gelman, however, is excited to build relationships with the incoming freshman team.

“I had such incredible mentors when I was on the Freshman Leadership Council and I look forward to mentoring freshmen as well,” said Gelman, a junior majoring in international finance and marketing and management.

Similar to the “All In” ticket, “Level Up” features two veteran members of student government, Fitzgerald and Gelman, and one outsider, Shaw who has spent his time at UM involved in greek life as a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, treasurer of the intrafraternity council and as a member of the club soccer team. Shaw, a junior majoring in finance, said he is in this race to make sure that underrepresented portions of campus are given a voice.

“What Level Up really means is representing every single student that is a part of this campus. I think traditionally speaking, I know that there are various communities on campus that don’t partake in student government and that might not be involved in the kind of decisions that are being made by student government and the university in general,” Shaw said. Two groups he said he is particularly interested in targeting are the greek and international student communities.

Escandón, a sophomore and the only independent candidate running for president, said he hopes to improve government austerity, increase student involvement in student government and encourage freedom of speech on campus.

Sophomore Andres Escandon is the only individual candidate running for president. Photo credit: Andres Escandon

“Students should vote for me because I have experience working with young people, I will make sure that the student government is important for the students and because I am mature,” said Escandón, an international student from Chiapas, Mexico studying marketing.

Asher Walker is running as an independent candidate for vice president.

The other independent candidate, Walker, said in his election bio that as vice president he will aim to make easing student anxiety his top priority. Some of his ideas include improving class scheduling, the advising system and creating defined midterm periods for each semester.

Senate Elections

There are eight senate seats up for election this spring and only seven candidates running. Write-in candidates will also be accepted for each race.

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Running to fill 8 spots in the student senate are (from top left) Tuana Yazici, Reginald Aikins, Brandi Stevens, Monica Muñiz, Avani Choudhary, Lara Hopkins and Valentina Neira-Diez. Photo credit: Student Government

For the two seats representing the College of Arts and Sciences, Sen. Tuana Yazici is running for re-election alongside newcomer Reginald Alkins. One of Yazici’s current projects is the establishment of mid-semester survey for professors. According to this election bio, Alkins hopes to improve the overall wellbeing of students.

One seat is open to represent the Miami Herbert Business School and there are currently no confirmed candidates running. Write-in candidates will determine the race for this seat.

Cheerleader Brandi Stevens is the sole candidate running for the open seat representing the School of Communication. In her bio she stated that she will serve her constituents by addressing their concerns.

Only two candidates are currently running to fill three open commuter seats in this election. Sen. Monica Muñiz is running for re-election to work on her current ongoing projects including creating a transfer student lounge. Avani Choudhary is also running for a commuter seat, and if elected she is going to work to get better priority for commuter students in purchasing parking passes.

In the only competitive senate race this semester, incumbent Sen. Lara Hopkins and candidate Valentina Neira-Diez are running to fill a single open seat representing the transfer student population. Hopkins is currently working on initiatives including a petition to create an online portal for transfer credits and the creation of a transfer student guide. Neira-Diez is proposing a Pancakes with Pat for commuting transfer students.

How to vote

Students will be able to vote electronically until Thursday, Feb. 20 at 11:59 p.m. on Engage either by ticket or separately for individual candidates for president, vice president and treasurer. There will also be in-person voting throughout the week from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Feb. 17, 18 and 20 and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Feb. 19 in the University Center Breezeway. Students voting on Tuesday Feb. 18 will be able to pick up free churros and those voting on Wednesday Feb. 19 will receive free Mojo donuts.

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Elections commissioner Kruti Patel monitors students as they vote for executive officers and senators. Photo credit: Anna Timmons

Election results will be announced at 12 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 at the Lakeside Patio. If runoff elections are necessary, they will take place from Feb. 24-25 and those results will be announced Feb. 27 at 12. p.m.