Meet your East Campus SGA president

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Every student knows plenty about President Obama and can rattle off facts about our presidential candidates, but how well do students know their own campus president?

Meet Joseph Torres, east campus’ SGA president.

In the following Q&A, Torres shares about himself and his experience in representing the east campus body.

Valencia Voice: Tell me a little about yourself—  What year are you in school? What’s your major? How many classes are you taking?

Joseph Torres: I’m a sophomore and I’m currently seeking a political science degree here at Valencia College and plan on transferring to UCF. I’m taking three classes.

Q: When did you get involved with the SGA and why?

A: [I got involved] in the summer of 2014. I wasn’t very active in regard to the clubs in high school, so I figured I’d get involved here. I thought getting involved in SGA would benefit what I’m seeking my degree in. I wanted to serve the students at the East Campus, so when I was told about SGA I read more into it and I was like, “Yeah that’s something I’d be interested in doing.” I applied for the Senator of Legislative Affairs position and then a few weeks later I got the position… [Later] the treasury position opened, it was an officer position verses a senator position, so they asked me if I wanted to do that and I said, “Sure.”

Q: Since you are a political science major, what job are you hoping to use it towards?

A: One day I plan on seeking office, but I really want to do a lot of work in non-profit.

Q: Any specific kind of non-profit?

A: Not at the moment. I haven’t indicated what I want to do yet.

Q: What is the role of SGA at Valencia?

As a group we are the voice of the student body; that is first and foremost. But we bridge the gap of communication between the faculty, staff, and administration, so we’re the ear to the ground to the students who have complaints and concerns and want to be heard. We also are on a lot of committees that serve the campus, that way it allows us to have an accurate representation of what the students are in need of. We’re that voice. We also lobby for higher education issues in Tallahassee that affect our students. For example, we are pushing for the Poinciana campus.

Q: What drew you to run for president?

A: I just really enjoyed doing what I was doing in Student Development, which is apart of the organization of Student Government. I just found it uplifting that I was able to help serve students on campus, so I figured why not take the next step and be president.

Q: What does the presidential role entail?

A: A lot of times we organize events that help students with services, we partner with Student Development to do welcome back weeks, and on Thursday we do Club rush for all the organizations as we are the ICC (Interclub Council) as well. We also share the opportunities that students have in getting involved in co-curricular activities, among those like going to Tallahassee and lobbying. Basically just being there to voice the students concerns among other organizational stuff that entails being in office.

Q: Do you find the job demanding?

A: I’m very busy. I’m juggling a few hats at the moment but I don’t miss a beat. In light of our current presidential election, it’s obviously been pretty heated.

Q: Did you experience anything that the candidates are going through during your election?

A: No, unfortunately to answer your question I ran unopposed. When we went to do the debate and the open forum about the candidates, I was the only one there. I didn’t have the pleasure to do that. I was looking forward to, and we marketed a lot to get people to come, apply, and be apart of the process but it happens. It happens a lot in the real government too.

Q: Do you relate to any of the highlights or struggles that our nominees are going through?

A: Some of the stuff is just getting things implemented or being productive, so that when you’re done your legacy sticks. I think that’s one of the superficial things— that you hope to make a difference and you hope by the end that something gets accomplished.

Q: Since the candidates are all about bringing change, what change did you hope to bring to Valencia?

A: When I was running for president, I wanted to open the communication between our clubs and organizations. I believe that the last semester that I was a part of SGA this wasn’t evident and a lot of people didn’t get information that they needed in order to participate in ICC. I wanted to bring that communication and being present, being there.

Q: Have you brought about any of these changes?

A: We switched the ICC meeting from 1 p.m. to 12 p.m. since a lot of clubs and organizations have their meetings at one. We thought, why not be more flexible ourselves and allow them to come to our 12 p.m. meeting? It worked pretty well the first meeting; we’re going to see about the second meeting. We might end up putting it back to where it was before since it’s always been like that. Currently we’re at thirty-seven clubs and organizations, we were at thirty-three in the beginning so we’re seeking new organizations. People have been commenting that our communication has been a lot better since last semester, so I think that’s an accomplishment of its own.

Q: What words of advice would you give students regarding the upcoming election?

A: That’s my favorite question. Given the options that we have this election year, I tell students to not be discouraged. I would tell them to still go to the ballot and choose one candidate that’s closer to your values. One that represents you well despite all the scandals that both parties have. I think it’s more important to look at the local elections though, because those are actually what matter most. I think that if you want to see change it starts at the local level. So I would encourage students to go out and vote regardless of their political leanings and just be informed of who’s running and what they stand for. I think that’s the most crucial part of this election.