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The T-Meter: How did FGCU’s ‘Synergy’ party do?

As the academic year will soon come to an end at FGCU, so will Thieldens Elneus’s year as Student Government president. How did he and his cabinet do?
Running unopposed in the Synergy party last year, Elneus promised major changes and set ambitious goals for the year ahead.
One of the branch’s main goals was to raise overall school spirit. Elneus said he aimed to extend spirit by doing a t-shirt exchange primarily, which consisted of allowing students to exchange t-shirts from other campuses for FGCU t-shirts.
“We’ve given out over 200 shirts,” Elneus said. “So, with that aspect, I think we’ve done pretty great.”
Out of the 14,673 students at FGCU, roughly two percent participated in the t-shirt exchange.
Elneus said SG also held two tailgates and two town halls last fall and will hold a town hall this spring as an effort to increase school spirit.
Another one of Elneus’s cabinet goals was to encourage more students to get involved with SG and the university in general. He said several students outside of SG joined university-wide committees such as the university sustainability committee, the university 20-year anniversary committee and the university website design committee this year.
“We’ve gotten a lot more students (outside of SG) to join a variety of different committees,” Elneus said. “The only thing that’s not successful, I would say, is getting students’ schedules to work on the committee schedules. Making sure students are available is very hard with classes changing every semester.”
Elneus said SG has met with the Honors Program Senate, the students that take part in the Eagle Council, the Resident Housing Association and the Sport Clubs Council as an effort to get students involved, as well.
“My approach was really targeting those students that I know are really involved on campus,” Elneus said. “So, what we did was we went to their meetings; and we told them what options are available, and we asked them to distribute (the information) to students who they work with directly.”
Members of the SCC said Elneus attended four or five meetings this year. Montana Knight, the internal and external events chair for the Honors Program Senate, said Elneus did attend one of its meetings this year.
“He wanted to make it known that SG was there to support Honors,” Knight said. “On top of that, Emmalyn Green is involved with SG and also a member of the Senate, so she keeps us up to date on ways to get involved when they come up.”
Danielle Gallipeau, the president of RHA, said Elneus did not attend any of its meetings. However, Gallipeau said the contact between the two organizations was “definitely more than normal.”
“T and I had a good relationship before he became president,” Gallipeau said. “He and I would speak — president to president — between each other if there were any updates.”
Gallipeau also said there is a specific position in RHA, the SG liaison, who attends SG senate every week.
Another big Synergy promise was the establishment of Eagle Radio. According to SG’s first 100-day report for the 2015-16 academic year, the radio station would offer debate opportunities, music and talk shows.
“Eagle Radio is an ongoing battle,” Elneus said. “I know that was one of our prime goals — we wanted to launch Eagle Radio by the end of this year — but our biggest hurdle right now is we just don’t have a location.”
Eagle Radio is set to be student-run program.
“It would be similar to Eagle News,” Elneus said. “It would be student-run positions with a student director.”
Elneus said SG has done everything it could to establish the station. It spent $11,472.94 on equipment for startup expenses, participated in the hiring of Media Adviser, Rhema Thompson, and met with outside radio stations. However, Elneus said no students have been officially recruited.
“Once we get the program rolling, I think we’ll have students partake in it,” Elneus said. “The biggest problem we’ve experienced over the years is that students have lots of interest and put in a lot work, as we’ve done this semester. But, since we don’t have a location, we can’t actually launch it.”
Elneus said SG has met with different FGCU officials — such as Michael Rollo, the vice president of Student Affairs; Ronald Toll, the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Brian Fisher, the director of University Housing, and President Wilson Bradshaw — to discuss this project but has not succeeded due to limited resources at the university.
“Everybody is aware that we’re looking for a location,” Elneus said. “We went up the proper chain of command to get this started. It’s just a matter of limited space now.”
Another initiative Synergy proposed was to negotiate with local vendors to get taxi rides to local areas on discounted rates for students. Elneus said SG has been working with Southwest Florida Transportation Group.
“We’re just waiting for the company to roll out the marketing scheme to get students more aware, but they’re here every other Tuesday tabling to let students know about the discounts downstairs in the Cohen Center,” Elneus said.
Michael Griffin, the spokesperson for Southwest Florida Transportation Group, said the partnership basically consists of providing “nice, polite drivers backgroundchecked by the county for FGCU students.”
“We’re trying to get the system working so that students can put in a promo code on our app,” Griffin said.
Although not a campaign promise, Elneus also said SG has met with a lot of local politicians and state legislators that affect students, not only on campus but also in the general aspects of their everyday life.
“We’ve been pretty active in getting to know these people and having conversations about how they can get to know students better,” Elneus said. “I think that was one of our biggest accomplishments, which is something that hasn’t been done in the past.”
When asked if he was planning on running for the presidency again this year, Elneus said, “Officially, I can’t really answer that question.”

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