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HOUSE: An interview with Juan Cubillo

-Plan to cut book costs for students:
We need to talk to the Provost to get an updated list to make sure we get books that are not revised every year, that don’t come out every year with a brand new edition. So we get a list of the books that are constant every year, then we know how many books we need and how many copies of each, and that’s how we’ll determine how much money we need. Let’s say, for example, we need $10,000 – we ask Senate for $10,000 and we buy 50 books, 5 copies of each, and make them available in the resource section of the library. You can’t take them home, but you can use them there and study or work with a partner or group. Other universities have done this already, so that’s where I got the idea. FAMU does this.
-Implementing and creating new degree programs:
We’re not spearheading this. We’re not going to go into President Bradshaw’s office and say we want a law degree here. As a Board of Trustees member, it is my duty to look into it, review it, research it and then vote on it. I voted on adding a few new parts of our education system throughout my year, including (the) physical therapy transitional degrees. In the future, I believe we’re looking into getting more programs.
-Research project funding:
In the past, Student Government has not funded research projects. It wasn’t until I came into office that I had students knocking on my door because they needed to put together anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000. It cannot go through a Senate bill because there’s no concrete line for them to fund research projects. But it is possible for me to fund them through a scholarship line item, which I do have in my budget for research trips or to perform these research projects. I’ve done it once this year, I’m thinking about doing another one for a student who really wants it. Fighting tuition increases:
We need to do a good job representing our students in Tallahassee as a part of the FSA. Rally in Tally, all the events that deal with the government, so that they give us the funding we need.
-Library hours and funding research projects:
In the past when we didn’t have the support from the state, we had to pass a bill through Senate, and it had to be funded with student money. I was actually the main sponsor for that bill two years ago when I was senator and Peter Cuderman gave me the task of doing it. But this year, my role was it wasn’t originally going to be done, and the library wasn’t going to be open 24 hours. But like I said, I have a good relationship and a good understanding of what goes on at a state level, and I know that FGCU received a good amount of money, at least more than we got in previous years.
-Stress relieving activities:
Some new ideas we had were maybe some free massages. I know there are some therapeutic puppy organizations around here that are meant for that, so we’re thinking about some things along those lines. Maybe give away a few stress ball, items to keep you from getting stressed with one subject.
-WGCU Eagle Radio:
This term I was able to open up the conversation and get them to agree to collaborate with us. In my next term, I will be able to not only give them a proposal as to what I envision the radio station will be, but I also have to agree to their terms because they don’t want this to be just a playground for us to just fool around – in they want this to be serious. They want this to be an extension of our academic programs here.
– Coalition of Student Leaders:
We have more than 160 active organizations. And they all have vice presidents, presidents, treasurers, secretaries, etc. A lot of them do a lot of work voluntarily, and it’s their passion – it’s what they come to school for. A lot of them come to school just because of that, so it’s important to me that these people who are so passionate and take on leadership positions know each other. They should network with each other, and they should understand what they go through. So this will serve as a networking system, as a coalition in order to promote each other’s events and as a way to be each other’s support system, because sometimes you don’t understand what a president goes through until you become a president of an organization – big or small – so they can all get in the same room and have biweekly or monthly meetings. They can understand each other and be each other’s support system.
-Lobbying for funding towards a new rec center:
In a nutshell, we just bring up the agenda item, which is capital funding, to legislators in Tallahassee, and hopefully we can compromise with them and lobby for a rec center and secure funding for a rec center.
-Beach transportation:
A lot of people drive separately. The whole point of this is one, to build more of a community event and two, to pretty much provide a safe ride to local areas and local places such as beaches, so we can all go together in a safe way.
-Improve handicap accessibility:
The Food Forest you go in there and obviously there are plants everywhere, there’s soil everywhere. I actually went on a little tour there one time and we had a young lady in a wheelchair go through, and she could not get through. Somebody had to carry the wheelchair, move it, and that’s almost discouraging maybe to someone who’s disabled in some form, so that’s one. Two, I realized that sometimes I go around campus and I press the buttons that are supposed to open the doors, and they don’t open, which means something’s wrong with them or they’re not installed properly. So we need to make sure that those are maintained at all times so that we don’t inconvenience students who utilize wheelchairs. Our housing buildings sometimes maybe lack ramps. West Lake I know lacks elevators. These are things, I’m not saying I have a solution for right now, but those are things we’ll look into to hopefully collaborate for solutions.
-Shuttle tracking app:
We want to ask for Senate collaboration again. We have a commitment from the VP of Finance of FGCU to pay for half of it. So now, we’re going to put in a bill for half of the funds so that way we don’t make Senate responsible for the full amount. So the difference this second time around is that we’ve secured funding for half of the initiative.
-Power generating gym equipment:
It’s going to take collaboration with Campus Rec – we can’t just throw them in in there because we feel like it. We need to have a conversation to have them. We need to collaborate. I’m a colleague with the student body president from USF in St. Pete. We had a campus tour of their university, and they really take these innovative methods serious. And one of them was this. In their gym they have three or four treadmills that generate a percentage of the building’s power. And I thought that was pretty neat, so maybe that’s something we can implement over here to spark a new image of innovation.
-Healthier food options:
Collaborate better with Aramark. People just generally want healthier options. Maybe they don’t want to go to Taco Bell, or they want fresh produce or gluten-free options, and we need to find a way to move towards that – not completely, but at least offer some options.
-More storage space:
We’re looking to see if there are more spaces available on campus. Maybe through modular, I know classroom space and storage space is limited on campus but maybe modular are going to be built  in the future. If not we can outsource to local storage units and we can find a way to regulate it through the University, so we know which storage unit belongs to which RSO and everybody can keep their things there safely as opposed to taking them home, losing it, and then they keep requesting the same thing over and over again through bills or budget requests.
-Beautifying campus and library lawn:
It’s something the administration is already planning. Luis and myself have been attending the meetings for a year now. They have engineers, they have architects and they have administration on it. Construction to the library lawn was supposed to take place over winter break, but due to some scheduling conflicts that didn’t happen. But renovations to the library lawn will take place this summer, and we are currently attending meetings to finalize plans for the entrance. I don’t think it directly affects students. This is not a deal breaker for students but it is something that, as we move forward as a University, we have to continue renovating and become more appealing to prospective students and current students.
-It looks like you’ll be continuing a lot of initiatives that you’re already working on. How will you improve student life?
A lot of them I decided to offer again because a few of them got denied by the Senate – otherwise they would’ve been done already. Some are initiatives that I don’t think are worth giving up on – I still think it’s a good idea. I just need collaboration from Senate. The second year gives you more time to actually implement the things you spent time planning. That’s why I’m continuing a lot of initiatives.
-Why are you a good candidate for the position?
Experience. The ability to collaborate with the administration. And an in-depth understanding of what we need from the state legislature to be successful on the state level. Doing this year, I also was able to reach out to many more students. I’ve been able to listen to the needs of more students that sometimes you overlook. Through the year I’ve met many people that now understand that I’m here for them, and I understand how to reach out to smaller crowds of students. Also a second year would be much easier for me to reach out to a majority of the student body and do what’s best for everybody.
-Any other comments?
I just want to share with them to give every party a fair shot. Every party has great initiatives and great ideas. But you can’t buy experience and that’s something that I want to bring to the table, and start implementing new initiatives and start contributing to the success of FGCU right away. So I encourage everyone to pay attention to every party, and I encourage everyone to vote as well and take part in the results and take part in the success of FGCU.

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