Friday, February 16, 2007
E.J. Walicki Speaks
TR: Why are you running for SBT? And what direct experience, if any, do you feel you have for this position?
E.J.: I am excited to become a better leader on our campus and improve my leadership skills. This will provide me with the chance to make UF a better place for all students. For the past few years I have had the pleasure of representing mainly the on-campus residents. Now I have a chance to represent the whole student body. I have been involved in SG through replacement senate seats and committees but never to the level that I wanted to, but now I can. It was the position that fit my leadership style, my abilities, and my experiences.
I have held leadership positions at the University of Florida for the past four years. I was the IRHA Auditor, which is the chief financial officer of the organization. I have sat in during the last four budget hearings for IRHA, and the last three for Residence Hall Week (IRHA's special event). As President, I still have to review and approve any SARs for our organization. I have worked with Student Body Treasurers and the finance office and I know what my fellow organizational Presidents want to see from the SBT. I understand what student groups go through during the budget hearings and what we can work to improve upon for next year. I have also served on committees ranging from Transportation and Parking, to the Faculty Senate, to University Employee Searches. All these are important in understanding how UF works and how we can work with other areas of the university to offer the best resources and services to our students.
TR: What are some issues that you feel are of particular importance to you? And what innovations, if any, do you have for the office of SBT?
E.J.: There are two issues that are of importance to me. The first one is safety. Our students need to know that this is a place where they are safe and secure. We need to make sure that we are doing everything we can so they do not have that anxiety while they are here. By increasing the ARREST programming we will give the students more education on how they can take proper precautions to protect themselves from violent acts. This also gives them more opportunities to attend and take advantage of these programs.
Then we have sustainability. It's everywhere on this campus. The university is taking strides to make this campus that way and I see no reason why we shouldnâ€™t try it for Student Government. We should be setting the example for sustainable initiatives and practices. A big goal of mine is to identify where we can be more environmentally-friendly in the third floor offices.
There are a few innovations that I have been thinking of for SBT. First, I want organizations to put down dates for their programs when the go through budget hearings. This way, my staff and I can look at their budget, see when the program is, and send out a reminder 6 weeks or so before time to submit their SARs for the event if they have not done so. I don't want student organizations, the finance office, or myself to be rushing around at the last minute for these requests. If I am reminding them about submitting SARs, then they know they have been told about it. It's important to take a proactive stance on this issue. Also, if there are issues (with an office resigning or some communication problems) then we have 6 weeks to work it out instead of submitting the SAR right at the two week mark and possibly not having it approved. I want these programs to take place because I want the students to have the opportunity to partake in them. I also want to have a training session at the beginning of the fall semester where all presidents and treasurers come in to a group orientation session. There will still be individual training, but sometimes it is better if they see it first hand and someone will usually ask a question that another person may not want to ask or wouldn't think of during a one-on-one meeting.
TR: In what ways, if any, does this new Gator Party differ from the Boyles' Swamp Party? Do you feel that being dubbed the mainstream or FBK-backed party does Gator justice? Why or why not?
E.J.: Gator is very much its own party. We have a fresh, diverse group of people on our Senate slate. In fact, only 6 of our 45 slated Senators were previously registered with Swamp. With a group assembled from all corners of this campus, we are able to design a new platform with innovative ideas. Yes, CD course packs is one that has carried over but that has been an issue that Ryan has been working on and we feel it is beneficial for the students. I do feel that our big focus is on the relationship between SG and the students. Our ticket is going to be very proactive in reaching out to students and student groups, not waiting for them to come to us.
I don't think being dubbed the "mainstream" party even matters. If putting qualified candidates for our executive ticket and having a very impressive and diverse senate slate is considered mainstream, then I will take it every election. We want to have the greatest impact on the student body and the Gator Party has the best people to do that. Everyone who is involved with the campaign has worked hard in their time at UF and it is the students that have been, and will be the ones benefiting from it.
TR: To your knowledge, has the Gator Party run a clean campaign up to this point and should your party ever consider carrying out ethically-questionable tactics, what would your response be? As the SBT, how informed are you of campaign-related operations?
E.J.: We have run a clean campaign. Everything we tell candidates and volunteers is about being positive and focusing on the experience of our ticket and slate, as well as the issues and concrete goals that we have set forth. We are committed to an upbeat campaign that will benefit the students. I stay very well informed from a variety of the staff who is working on this campaign.
TR: There have been alleged sightings of Tommy Jardon leading a group of unknowns around the Reitz Union. Witnesses aren't can't make a clear ID, but they have seen what resembles a shoe-shine-box. Has Tommy or any member of Action shined your shoes or that of any candidate of the Gator Party?
E.J.: The only person who has been shining my shoes is me (with a few tips from my dad).
TR: What are you feelings on CLAS cuts and the growing concerns that some of UF's best professors are in fact on their way out? Do you feel that there is any way SG can have an impact on this realm of campus policy or do you think SG's critics use to SG's detriment since student officials are virtually powerless on the matter?
E.J.: These CLAS cuts are such a huge issue because so many students are affected by the college. I don't like to see cuts because then you are taking away services to the students, but the college is having some financial trouble so they need to be doing that. Until they can get back to normal or get increased sources of funding, it would not make sense (fiscally) for them to operate at the same level. I do think SG can have an impact on this area and should work hard to do so. Let's have students sit down with the Provost, the Dean of the College, some professors, etc. and look at the budget. The issues in CLAS affect so many students, so they should be involved with this process. If there is one thing I have noticed about the students at UF is that we should not be underestimated. We are smart and full of ideas. If we see something in the budget that seems out of place or there is a flaw in a certain policy, we will find it. I hope students will not be ignored because we could find something that the administration may overlook.
TR: Tell us about your presidential candidate, what qualities do you believe he possesses (aside from a number of SG titles) that truly make him a better choice to lead students than PANTS Presidential candidate Bruce Haupt?
E.J.: Ryan has a great vision for what he wants for the University of Florida and what the relationship between SG and the students should be. He is willing to go out there and start reaching out to students so they know what SG does for them. He understands the time commitments that being SBP takes; he has been around it for a year as an executive officer. He is familiar with the staff, the administrators, and the students.
TR: Any parting words?
E.J.: I am extremely excited for this election, to be running, and to be able to answer some questions. I want the students to get excited and get out there and vote this year. We have a great group of individuals in the Gator Party and I am privileged to be running with them. They work hard and it shows.