A student-led initiative at Florida State University, the Amplify Movement, is on a mission "to expand the unique and distinct voices of each student at Florida State University through advocacy, engagement, and most importantly, action." With Student Government Association (SGA) elections coming up for Florida State University, I spoke with three very important members of Amplify, President Evan Steinberg, Vice President Stephanie Lee, and Treasurer Caleb Dawkins to get a better understanding of the movement and what they plan to accomplish if they're elected.
The movement's platform is simple yet impactful: advocate for student voices; engage the student body; expand campus safety initiatives; promote awareness and transparency; accountability; and further the Florida State strategic plan. The main goal is to advocate for students who feel underrepresented in the community. "We are such a diverse group, not only in the Amplify Movement but on campus," said Caleb. "We all come from different backgrounds and have different needs, so we want to make sure those 42,000 different voices are heard." As a minority myself, it's comforting to know that there are people that want to voice my needs and find ways to satisfy them.
But what about for those students who don't know what SGA can do for them, students like myself? Many of the students at Florida State University are unaware of the benefits of SGA, either directly or indirectly.
According to Stephanie, "We want to bring our resources and our knowledge to students. We've all been a part of other associations and clubs, so we know the basics of SGA, but most students don't, so we want to help them find the resources they need." In my opinion, I think that this is an important feature, as many students may think about getting involved but have no idea how to start. Additionally, many students may not even have an inkling whatsoever as to what SGA does for the student body, I think that making the knowledge more accessible is crucial, so that students can understand how their decisions and actions may or may not be affected by SGA.
"We want to ensure that we're hearing every voice on campus," said Evan, "and it's difficult when many students aren't represented. There are so many communities and groups, so we want to reach out and cover everything. It's so rewarding when we're able to advocate for everyone and know that people's needs are met." According to Stephanie, in support of their advocacy of all the students at FSU, they are even working with the "Pride Student Union to create gender-inclusive housing." And it doesn't stop there, they also work to support students with intellectual disabilities. If you ask me, they truly have everyone in mind when making their decisions. It's not just about what is best for them and their movement but rather, the thousands of students at our beautiful campus.
In addition, the Amplify Movement is also looking to better our textbook-buying. As a fellow college student, I know that I myself struggle to pay for textbooks, on top of the amounting tuition. Textbooks are expensive, especially when you account for how many classes a student may take and that one class may require more than one textbook. "We want to have professors put the costs of textbooks in their syllabus, as well as encourage professors to change to open educational resources," Evan said. This means that instead of using a textbook, students can access their information online, with the ability to print PDF versions of texts. "It's hard to sell a textbook back when the professor has switched to a newer edition, too," reminded Stephanie.
This would require professors to make textbook edition updates less frequent, as they usually hold the same information. In general, I appreciate the sentiment, especially since I've had my own teachers tell me that despite advertising the current version of the book, they don't care which version I actually use as it is virtually all the same. However, I also find how this can be problematic, as certain disciplines cannot be studied without the most up-to-date information, especially in fields such as health or science. If we're grooming our students to be the best doctors they can be, wouldn't you argue that you want them to hold more current knowledge, rather than what was known and considered five years ago? In our ever-changing world of technology and innovation, new discoveries are not unfounded.
So why did these three leaders take on such a big task, like leading a whole movement? According to Stephanie, it was accidental; she was in the Asian-American Student Union and felt that she needed a platform to really voice what she wanted and needed. "Being a minority on campus, you kind of feel underrepresented, but we're trying to change that now," she said. Both Evan and Caleb had been involved in SGA for many years in high school and felt that it was only right to continue in college. "I wanted it to be a new experience to grow, and now I'm watching my community and movement grow, and it's amazing," said Evan. "I agree," added Caleb, "the growth is great. I've been in student government since 7th grade and I really enjoy representing all different students. Evan actually talked to me about joining SGA my freshman year at FSU, and the rest is history."
Their vision is clear and their goals are achievable. These three remarkable and passionate leaders, along with their talented and determined team, want to amplify the voices of every Florida State student to celebrate their diverse and unique experiences while addressing their needs with tailored strategies and an individualistic approach. Student veterans, religious observances, gender inclusive housing, and ensuring affordable textbooks for students are just some of the many wonderful things the Amplify Movement hopes to achieve. It's hard to find a reason to hate this trio and what they stand for.
What did they have to say to their opponents in the Unite Party and the Legacy Party? Stephanie said that regardless of how the elections play out, everyone should follow through with their goals and passions, "we need to work together to strive for a better student government." Evan said that even though eco-friendliness and sustainability aren't on their platform, as the Unite Party, "it's on our mind and something we want to work on. It's hard to find what's going to be on our platform without overwhelming students." Upon further questioning, Caleb also mentioned that the Amplify Movements plans on partnering with the Office of Sustainability.
While the Amplify Movement may lack certain aspects in their approach that the Unite Party and the Legacy Party might have, these things, as well as even additional ones, are not far from their mind. If you ask me, they're starting small and slowly gaining the momentum to do more and more. We all know that big changes don't just happen in the instance of a second. It takes time, dedication, and hard work - all of which are qualities I see in these three student leaders. And from what I've gathered in my interview, the Amplify Movement truly is working to amplify your voices. So keep in mind ladies and gentleman, your voice, opinions, wants, and needs are the priority to Stephanie, Caleb, and Evan.
Student Government Elections are February 20th, 2019 and voting ends at 7 p.m. Be sure to get out and vote! #AmplifyFSU.