Tampa campus Gov. Joey Cipriano’s efforts to deliver on campaign promises amid funding relocations by the USF administration.
With the campaign acronym CARE, Cipriano and Tampa campus Lt. Gov. Gabrielle Henry’s main focus is connection, advocacy, representation and environmental concerns on campus.
Although Cipriano said they were successful in helping students find existing resources, some campaign efforts were not given due to funding decisions.
While responding to the efforts to create an environmentally friendly campus, Cipriano said that the proposals and projects are currently being evaluated by the Green Energy Fund.
“The others [projects] for more solar, some for the expansion of zero-emission buses, or for electric buses, and then also for having more golf carts that can be electric,” said Cipriano. “Ultimately, it’s not our decision, it’s for the committee to decide which projects are funded.”
Currently, there is a zero-emission Bull Runner on the Tampa campus. The Green Energy Fund awarded $1.3 million in solar panels in 2017, already installed in the Marshall Student Center, the only building currently powered by solar energy.
Part of Cipriano and Henry’s campaign is promoting students. While explaining efforts to develop virtual and in-person options for counseling on the Tampa campus, and reduce wait times, Cipriano said international students feel less inclined to seek help. .
“For some international students, there is a greater stigma around mental health from their parents, if they come from a more traditional background,” Cipriano said.
The governor said in ongoing conversations about the Counseling Center and with members of the USF administration, the executive branch has established that the university needs to dedicate more funding and resources to the Center. Although improvements are needed, Cipriano mentioned that the Timely Care Program has been implemented to improve students’ chances of seeing a counselor.
“That’s just something that’s done,” Cipriano said. “It is better to serve more urgent needs, because the waiting times at the Counseling Center in the peak season can be two weeks long, which is sometimes too long for many people.”
Counseling Center Director Scott Strader gave full credit to Student Government for its funding of mental health resources, which he said encouraged the Counseling Center to implement the online platform TogetherAll.
However, the decision to use TimelyCare was made by Student Health Services (SHS) and SHS executive director Joseph Puccio, according to Strader. As SHS needed to increase capacity for psychiatric services due to growing student demand, Strader said Puccio initiated the idea along with talks between himself and SG representatives.
A promise on Cipriano and Henry’s ticket in the last election delivered 12 new gender-neutral bathrooms on campus. Cipriano said that after communicating with the administration, there is not enough demand from the students to implement more.
Instead, SG shifted its efforts to the Period Project, which was already in the MSC bathrooms and library. The project aims to take care of people of different genders who have periods by providing period products in all gendered bathrooms. Cipriano said that guaranteeing these hygiene products in each bathroom is very important because of the large circulation in these buildings.
“By the time they get restocked, they’re always empty,” Cipriano said. “We’re not meeting the demand that’s already in the buildings. So we’re really just trying to match that.”
Connecting with the student body for an accurate representation of its needs is an important part of their gubernatorial campaign. While identifying which concerns are most raised by students through Instagram and other platforms, Cipriano discussed the concern of diminishing diversity and how it affects the student body as a whole.
“We were able to restart conversations with the administration about the needs of Black students on campus, especially with declining enrollment, which was unexpected,” Cipriano said. “It’s something we want to talk about, and the administration wants to address.”
Working in constant communication with the administration, Cipriano mentions that promoting different cultural events on campus, such as Diversity Week this November, is a concrete action that is already underway. He also said that it is within the planning of visiting local high schools to promote different enrollments next term.
“Some of the needs of Black students are related to admissions and scholarships, but there are other topics involved,” Cipriano said. “We are communicating with MSC to set more permanent hours for the Black student space on the third floor, next to OMA.”
The governor’s effort to give the students a platform shines a light on issues that are not original to their campaign. While students are reaching out to ask for more access resources through the campus, Cipriano said they are now working to understand what students really need from physical infrastructure, communication with professors and maps around campus.
“We have an Accessibility Task Force,” said Cipriano. “We sent a survey with more than 200 student responses to find out what disabled students need, what improvements the university needs to make.”
While the conversation was initiated by the President’s Advisory Committee on Accessibility and included all three campuses last November, Cipriano said the Accessibility Task Force is a Tampa campus executive SG initiative.
Cipriano’s greatest achievement is associated with how closely he himself and the lieutenant governor want to work with students, always keeping communication open between the student government and who they represent. Cipriano said that he is happy with the joint effort.
“I feel like we have a lot of things that have been done, and some of our initiatives in the works that I think will really help our students,” Cipriano said.