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Smeriglio looks to experience for answers

Ray Smeriglio said coming out was an inspiration for calls of transparency.

Ray Smeriglio, student body president-elect, said it is important for his administration to have transparency, whether speaking to students on Main Campus or bringing them into decision-making at meetings.

As an openly gay man, Smeriglio said he wants to lead by example in being transparent and set a precedent for large institutions to facilitate the gay rights conversation.

“I want to show people that being yourself is enough to become student body president,” Smeriglio said. “The coming-out process was a huge part of my life, too big a part not to openly express to people.”

Since his second semester, Smeriglio said he has crafted his path to the presidency, starting with his involvement as an Owl Team Leader at summer orientation.

“In the Owl Team I saw a diverse group of leaders who were outspoken and very excited about Temple,” he said.

After getting involved with Temple Student Government, Smeriglio said he learned from past student leaders Julian Hamer and David Lopez and gained the desire to run for office. He said he saved his presidential run for his senior year to have the most experience behind his campaign.

Now heading for the office he sought after for so long, Smeriglio said he is not concerned with short-term planning.

“We want to put forward initiatives that can affect the class of 2018, 2019 and 2020,” Smeriglio said.

He said one initiative he plans to introduce right away to benefit future classes is improved freshman and transfer orientation and an academic leaders program to get students to speak directly with school and college deans.

Smeriglio’s campaign ticket, TU Believe, and the opposing ticket, Renew TU, both had platforms that reflected closely on their immediate experience. As an Owl Team Leader and TSG spokesman, Smeriglio campaigned for improving orientation and communication resources.

“We didn’t want to promise more than we could get done,” Smeriglio said. “We don’t want students disappointed in us because we put initiatives on our platform where we have no experience to change things effectively and swiftly.”

Looking ahead, Smeriglio said one area where immediate change is needed is in the customer service at Sodexo.

“I have heard complaints from every kind of student,” he said. “It’s a big reason students move off campus.”

Smeriglio said one student recently told him she was so frustrated with the service at Tony Luke’s that she walked away in the middle of her order. Smeriglio said he would work to make sure students and Sodexo workers receive respect.

He said improving customer service is important to keep the university growing.

“Prospective students come and eat here,” Smeriglio said. “They’re on the ground experiencing this problem, and it’s a big turn-off. Poor customer service is unacceptable. We’re losing on an investment.”

That growth, Smeriglio said, is something he wants to stay on the upswing.

“We have a good size in terms of students,” he said. “But we need to expand our resources.”

Joe Gilbride can be reached at joseph.gilbride@temple.edu.

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