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Published:March 2nd, 2008 07:22 EST
SGA president to finish platform by end of term

SGA president to finish platform by end of term

By Hedy Phillips

The University of Central Florida Student Government Association’s first female president’s term will soon end, but not before all 31 of her goals are accomplished.

“We have five left that will be complete by the end of the semester,” said Brandie Hollinger, SGA president. 

Of the completed goals, Hollinger is most proud of helping to prevent a $500 semester fee this year for incoming and transfer students that other state universities have implemented.  According to her platform Web site, the fee is part of the Academic Enhancement Program and would not have been covered by Bright Futures or Florida Prepaid.  She spoke to all but three representatives at the Central Florida delegation on behalf of UCF.  

Unfortunately, UCF may still apply the fee in future semesters.

Cinema studies major Deborah Fishkind, 22, appreciates Hollinger fighting for the students. 

“I wouldn’t be able to afford an extra $500 a semester if I was a new student,” Fishkind said.  “I’m poor as it is.”   

Hollinger, as well as SGA vice president Logan Berkowitz, are also excited about the new athletic facilities on campus including the Bright House Networks Stadium and new UCF arena.  They allowed the SGA to bring homecoming and tailgating on campus as well.    

“We were able to involve so many more people with holding activities on campus this year,” Berkowitz said.  “The football tailgating was great and we were even able to give all the students a free T-shirt at the first football game.  Who doesn’t love that?”

Though Hollinger said her term will end May 8, she and Berkowitz are both confident that their last five goals will be completed by then.  Hollinger said the last five goals are creating a book buy-back system, increasing the lighted areas on campus, helping the writing center financially, developing a late night transportation system to local places and increasing the number of green roofs on campus.

“We started with a lofty platform, but not many of our goals have changed,” Hollinger said.  She also said that some of their goals have been adjusted due to budgets and other factors. 

She said, “Not all goals are 100 percent attainable, but we reworked them so something could still be done,”

One of those is the issue of lighted areas.  Hollinger said the task has morphed into just maintaining the current fixtures.

“I did a safety walk a few weeks ago and I realized that half of the lights are busted,” she said.  “If we just fix what we have, we are increasing the lighted areas.”

But not everything is so easily fixed.  One platform goal was to bring SGA to the students and help make them more aware of what the SGA does.  SGA Attorney General Aida Latorre said that this is something they need to continuously work on. 

Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Ricky Ly added, “We could have worked more with the students to achieve more for them, but the year is not over yet.”

UCF students see room for improvement, too.  Literature major Michelle Calles, 21, said she didn’t see SGA communicating with students this year more than before.  “They should have a presence at all events with all organizations and I didn’t always see that.”

This year hasn’t just been about goals for Hollinger, though. When she took office in May 2007, she made UCF history by becoming the first female president of the SGA.  Though she enjoys the honor, it hasn’t affected her job.

“Sure it’s awesome, but I don’t want to be treated special for it,” she said.  “I knew I was qualified as a person and that was all that mattered.”

Hollinger also knew Berkowitz was qualified to be her vice president.

“We went to Applebee’s one night and talked for like two hours and realized we had a lot of the same ideas and concerns,” she said.

Berkowitz said, “What we accomplished together this year is amazing and I know SGA is capable of doing even more in the future.”

Berkowitz will take over as president in May with Brandon Delanois as his vice president.  They are both hoping to continue what Hollinger put in place this year. 

But for Hollinger, a graduate of UCF’s nursing program, this is the end of her SGA career.

“I want to go into pediatric nursing and continue helping people,” she said.

From the moment she got involved in SGA, she wasn’t as interested in the politics as she was with helping her fellow students, she said.

“It’s intriguing the impact you can have when you take a position like this,” she said.  “You have no idea until you’re there and I’m proud to have done it.