UCF SGA president and vice president move to create diverse Cabinet

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UCF SGA president-elect Joshua Boloña and vice presidential-elect Jad Shalhoub are moving to fulfill their campaign promise of assembling a diverse Cabinet once sworn into office. 

“Now that the campaign is over, my mind is focused on change,” Shalhoub, a senior industrial engineering major, said. “I don’t have to think about the election anymore, we’re completely focused on getting to work.”

Boloña and Shalhoub are slated to be sworn into office on May 7 at 9 a.m., according to a Thursday email from Shane Juntunen, the director of the Office of Student Involvement.

After running in the 2017 UCF SGA presidential election and losing, Boloña and Shalhoub ran a second time. After a runoff election was announced, they won the 2018 UCF SGA presidential election against Karen Caudillo and Theressa Tong on March 21. 

Boloña and Shalhoub won 56.4 percent of the 6,816 total votes cast in the runoff election. Caudillo and Tong trailed behind with 43.6 percent of the votes, according to the UCF 2018 SGA Presidential Runoff results.

Caudillo and Tong could not be reached for comment.

The Cabinet is part of the executive branch and is made up of student leaders who are appointed by the UCF SGA president each year. Although the Cabinet is credited with being a diverse group of students, Shalhoub said there are serious fundamental issues that he and Boloña plan to address.

“There is no recruitment for Cabinet positions right now,” Shalhoub said. “The only people who know about the application deadlines are the people closest to SGA. There is currently no reaching out and searching for strong candidates.”

With no outreach or recruitment for Cabinet member selection, options are limited in diversity and qualifications, Shalhoub said.

As part of their platform, Boloña and Shalhoub promise to keep Cabinet applications open until at least five students apply for every position to ensure UCF SGA is a true representation of campus, Shalhoub said.

Boloña and Shalhoub outlined strategies in their platform to practice outreach and gather a wide range of student perspectives during the Cabinet-recruitment process.

The duo promise to re-visit every organization seen during the campaign trail to discuss how Boloña and Shalhoub can improve UCF. They also plan to participate in bi-weekly diversity and inclusion programs, according to their platform.

“There are many different student organizations that represent an almost exhaustive spectrum of cultural and ideological diversity,” Shalhoub said. “By reaching out to all these organizations, we will ensure that we get a diverse pool of applicants who will then be evaluated on their character and their qualifications.”

Shalhoub said he and Boloña plan speak to as many students as possible.

“We’re currently in the process of making a Google Form interest form in order to gain a big pool of potential applications,” Boloña said. “We’re reaching out to all organizations from Multicultural Student Center to Lead Scholars to Greek life.”

Boloña said he and Shalhoub want to ride the momentum created during elections, which caused students to discuss and learn more about SGA.

“The way they did their platform leaves room for members of their Cabinet to build in their own initiatives, which is something seldom seen in the executive cabinet,” said Sierra Scott, Senate president pro tempore and sophomore who is studying political science and legal studies.

Scott said Boloña and Shalhoub will go through their term with more transparency than UCF has ever seen. 

Having an approachable and transparent student government is key to a productive culture, Boloña and Shalhoub said. They said it’s their primary duty to represent and advocate for all UCF students.

The UCF Latino Leadership Council is one of several Registered Student Organizations that endorsed Boloña and Shalhoub during their campaign.

“We viewed both candidates as amazing; however, Josh and Jad’s determination to serve UCF was shown when they tried to run again,” Zaria Woods, secretary and executive director-elect of the organization, said. “To us, that’s what sets them apart from everyone else.”

Boloña and Shalhoub plan to create a Cabinet with diverse members will allow them to find people who are dedicated to the well-being and success of students, Woods, a UCF freshman health science pre-clinical major, said.

“All the candidates this year were amazing, and we had the privilege to talk to all of them, but through Josh and Jad’s resume of leadership, their integrity, their ingenuity and their passion, we are happy that they were able to win,” Woods said. 

Aside from changes in the Cabinet selection, Boloña and Shalhoub said they intend to stick to the values, initiatives and promises spelled out in their platform

“UCF has the infrastructure and brain power to be the innovators of the future,” Shalhoub said. “In order to do this, we have to be bold and redefine how we interact as a community.”

Shalhoub said he and Boloña need to be trailblazers in this modern era.

“We want students to respect us through our actions rather than title,” Boloña said. “We will do that by remaining true to who we are and by allowing our passion to drive us and our minds to guide us.”