Editor's Note: Below is a transcription of the debate that happened Feb. 13. If you see any errors, please email [email protected].
Erica Baker: [inaudible] We look forward to providing a comprehensive debate featuring the three executive tickets vying to be your next Student Body president, vice president and treasurer. I hope tonight is a valuable experience and that all members of the Student Body remember to participate in our Student Body elections on February 20th and 21st.
Before we begin, I would like to take a moment to thank a few people who were instrumental in this process: __ Laney, James Tyger, and Kevin Sebmen(?) [inaudible] for their help in preparing for tonight.
And also I would like to thank Action SG for agreeing to film tonight’s debate so that it can be viewed by students who were unable to attend. There will also be a transcript created.
Finally, I’d like to thank and now introduce our moderator for this evening: Mr. Marna Weston. Mr. Marna Weston is a 1994 graduate of the University of Florida, receiving dual degrees in history and telecommunication. As a UF undergrad, he was involved in campus and community activities. He received the City of Gainesville’s highest award for diversity and multicultural awareness in 1991. He also served as president of the UF Speech and Debate Team. Mr. Weston has served as moderator for many community debates, including Accent Presents Governors Richard Thornburgh and Michael Dukakis and, more recently, an Accent marijuana debate. Mr. Weston serves or has served in a variety of campus positions, including consultant to the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, administrative assistant to Upward Bound, UF Speech and Debate Team alumni coach, instructor for public speaking in the Colleges of Agriculture, CLAS and Warrington College of Business, and the University Writing Program instructor for the program class. Please welcome, Mr. Marna.
Marna Weston: Good evening Gators. Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Erica, thank you for your very gracious introduction. It is my honor to be with you this evening as we establish our role in a long standing tradition for your candidates for Student Government. The nine individuals sitting on the dias, which I’ll introduce in a moment, will each have the opportunity to express to you and to the Gators at home and around the world their qualifications to be the next executive slate for the University of Florida. That is an incredible responsibility. We are excited for the opportunity now to introduce those candidates to you.
On my far right — the audience left — the candidates of the Impact Party: the presidential candidate, Ian Green; the vice presidential candidate David Enriquez; and the treasurer candidate, Stefan Sanguyo. The party in the center is represented for president with Revel Lubin. Of course, it is the Inspire Party. Their vice presidential candidate is Bijal Desai, and the treasurer candidate is Alyssa Bethencourt. The third party is the Challenge Party. The presidential candidate is Janae Moodie. The vice presidential candidate is Shayli Patel. And the treasurer candidate is Chase Werther.
Welcome to the debate. I will now explain the rules. Both campaigns shall be granted a maximum of five minutes to deliver an opening statement and three minutes to deliver a closing statement. One candidate per campaign shall be chosen by the campaign to give the opening statement and one to give the closing statement. The selected person may give both statements if the campaign so chooses. Any of the specified executive candidates are eligible to speak during this time. The speaking order for the opening and closing statements was decided by a draw from a hat executed by me with the assistance of Erica before the debate began. You will all probably have a chance to watch that. The campaign winning the draw would decide speaking first, second or third speak in both opening and closing statements. The campaign coming in second would pick from the remaining choices, and the campaign coming in next would speak in whatever position remaining. We performed that draw just a few minutes before we began tonight, and the Impact Party won the draw. They chose to speak third in both the opening and closing statements. Next was the Challenge Party. They will be speaking second in both the opening and closing statements, and the Inspire Party will speak first in opening and closing statements.
The speaking order for the questions this evening will go in alphabetical order by campaign name and will rotate for every other question. The campaigns will be provided with equal time to respond to each question. The time provided to respond to each question shall be two minutes, a one-minute period will be provided for rebuttal and 30 seconds for a second rebuttal. Questions will be asked to a campaign as a whole and the campaigns will decide which candidate will respond to the question. Once the chosen candidate begins to speak, no other member of the campaign is allowed to respond to the same question during the two-minute answer period. Rebuttal may be provided by a candidate other than the candidate who responded initially for any question, and any candidate who goes over the time limit will receive a warning. Upon receiving a third warning, that candidate will be removed from the debate.
With the rules of the debate established, agreed to by both parties prior to the start of the debate, a final reminder that we ask the audience to hold their applause until just a moment from now. I’d like to remind the audience that this event is for those at home who may only have this opportunity to hear from the next executive slate at the University of Florida. Your presence here as a live audience is a responsibility to ensure that those who are not in this hall can understand every syllable of this event. The microphones [inaudible], how the candidates respond, how they do everything because they are being listened by those who are not in this hall. And to empower themselves with a sense of goals, character and ideals of these candidates, it is critically important for those who are not here to be able to understand what is taking place.
You have been given a great responsibility as Gators. You are stewards of our tradition of the passing of power from one administration to the next that has been established long before you came here. And also to ensure the hospitality of the University of Florida. The motto of our great seal is “civium in moribus rei publicae salus.” The welfare of the state rests on the character of its citizens. Therefore, I will ask you for stability, for tolerance and for hospitality, and to enjoy the debate.
At this time, you will be given one more opportunity to salute your particular candidate on the stage that you like. But after this, and until the end, please remember there are those at home watching this debate that cannot see what you see. I’d like to give you that opportunity to recognize and celebrate your candidates in any sort of fashion you choose at this time.
I would like to ask the candidates at this time if they have not already done so, please turn your mics on. Please check your mics are on, so you can be heard at home.
Revel Lubin: Test, test, test.
Janae Moodie: Hello. OK.
Ian Green: Go Gators.
Marna Weston: Outstanding. And now, I invite a representative from the Inspire Party to give their opening statement.
Revel Lubin: Good evening. I’d like to begin by thanking those who put on this debate from SG, Liz, James, SOE — for everyone taking the time to put on this debate, I thank you all. And also you all in the crowd for being here this evening. My name is Revel Lubin, and I am running to be your next Student Body president, along the two most selfless leaders I have been blessed to run and cross paths with, Bijal Desai and Alyssa Bethencourt. I am currently a third-year student majoring in criminal law and African American studies, along with a minor in religion.
I currently sit here today as the unconventional candidate, given that I have not spent years in Student Government Senate and voraciously climbed the ladder plotting on the candidacy for presidency. I have not intentionally joined any Greek letter organizations that I believe to be politically strong on personally gaining, and neither have Bijal or Alyssa. That cannot truthfully be said by neither of the presidential candidates on this stage.
My running mates and I personal self interest is the self interest of you all — the students. Vice president candidate Bijal Desai currently serves as the president of the largest multicultural organization on campus, VISA. And treasurer candidate Alyssa Bethencourt served her constituents in Student Senate, where she served on allocations committee. She previously served as the director of the Freshman Leadership Council.
As candidates for the Inspire Party, we have joined in with a coalition of leaders, selfless servants, who actually have the audacity to care about the Student Body, to actually care about Student Government enough to bring forth accountability, inclusivity and transparency to all students here on campus. We are ready to hold our leaders to the highest standards and hold them accountable starting at the very top all the way down without [inaudible] any excuses.
We seek to bring inclusivity to Student Government by first leveling the playing field by shattering the system that pre-selects members before they actually interview for a position. We seek to shatter the status quo by not only being the underdogs and by running for Senate, by leaving Impact out for 27 seats and actually fighting and advocating for live streaming of transparency, live streaming at Senate meeting as well as free menstrual hygiene products on campus.
We are the underdogs, and I personally have been the underdog my entire life, institutionally being born into poverty. How poverty has shaped me into the individual you see today and a selfless servant to all my colleagues and those who I come in contact with. From being orphaned at the age of 11, and being raised by my sister, and going to school when 80 of my friends and my classmates being registered homeless. So I know what it’s like to be structurally left out and what it feels like to be marginalized. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless. I know what it’s like to be insecure or feel like I don’t belong. I found my home here at the University of Florida through the Black Student Union, where I developed my leadership style through the Leadership Development Institute. And I joined in my freshman year as an official ambassador through the Florida Cicerones, and I also got involved with Student Government starting with the cabinet, and I now serve as your current Student Body treasurer.
From hateful legacies on campus and hateful people on campus, from accessibility to hygiene products on campus to the lack of gender-inclusive residence halls, from sustainability issues and admissions to marginalized groups on campus, and food insecurities on this campus as well, Student Government and this campus cries out for change in Student Government.
When our Student Government leaders are stagnant and not openminded and making changes for every Gator on campus, it’s time for you all to take a stance and vote for people who have your best interest in mind. You have candidates who will fight on behalf of justice. You have candidates who will fight on behalf of what’s right. You have candidates who will fight for truth. You have candidates who will not take orders from anyone behind the scenes, but take orders from the students and not nobody else. You have committed candidates who are here to inspire you all. Thank you all so much.
Marna Weston: Thank you Revel Lubin, the presidential candidate for the Inspire candidate. It is now time according to the rules for the Challenge Party to give their opening statement.
Janae Moodie: Good evening everyone and thank you for hosting us tonight. How about I tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Janae Moodie, and I am a fourth-year psychology major from West Palm Florida, and I am honored to be running to be your next Student Body president. I am a first generation American from West Palm Beach Florida. My parents are Jamaican and since childhood, they have always emphasized the importance of education and advocacy. In many ways they’re why I ended up at the University of Florida and in Student Government.
I am incredibly fortunate to be here. I am attending a school that only started accepting people of color to join the Student Body only sixty years ago. I am in a position to run to be president of the Student Body at an amazing university, and if I am elected I will follow Miss Bingham as the second black woman to hold the office in 32 years.
I am supported by two wonderful, strong women who share the tickets with me. They represent different races and backgrounds, and along with me, they make this ticket truly diverse. Our vice president candidate Shayli Patel is a third-year economics major with a minor in Spanish and statistics. She is passionate about fighting for justice and equity in society for people of all backgrounds and identities. She has spent her time at UF as the director of the Indian Student Association, a campus ambassador, a resident assistant, and a Gatorship ambassador under multicultural and university affairs. Likewise, our treasurer Chase Werther is a third-year philosophy and political science double major on the pre-law track. She wants to write policy reform for the prison system, and is passionate about social justice and equity. Her most meaningful involvement has been through Gatorship, Planned Parenthood Generation Action and the Women Student Association. These roles have empowered her as a woman as have allowed her to advocate for others in defending women’s rights to legislators, promoting safe sex and educating on consent.
Collectively, our various involvement in leadership roles have strengthened us to add definition and focus to the party which we serve. As the Challenge team, we amplify the voice of students frustrated with the current climate of the current Student Government, a government run in allegiance to party optics instead of on the students needs, one with self-serving tendencies instead of fairness. We have the sobering awareness that we are all Gators. We [inaudible] together, and walk through Turlington Hall together and we pay student fees and we are all shareholders in Student Government. Right now though, we are [inaudible].
I hope tonight showcases conversations on real issues, since the last debate only lead to a misleading article on The Alligator about the issue of online voting. During the rebuttal period, Inspire candidate Lubin accused me of being on an online voting ad hoc committee that tried to vote online voting down. Consequently, I responded that I was never on such committee. My initial response was founded in the inaccurate description of the purpose of the committee. On being asked by The Alligator about said denial, I articulated to them that I did not remember my initial rebuttal to Lubin; that if I said that I was not on the ad hoc, it was in the heat of the moment and a lapse of memory. For the record, I was in the implementation of online voting ad hoc committee, that revised the 700 codes to make online voting feasible, but it was turned down by a system-influenced Supreme Court, and I was not a part of that group.
I hate to waste time on this trivial issue, but as a result of this inaccuracy making headlines, I felt compelled to address this [inaudible] before it gets distorted and further twisted by my opponents. Not to mention, the simplest way to show your commitment to the implementation of online voting would be to have it as a platform point. And yes, I’m talking to you Impact Party.
Like our party president Anthony Rojas says, it’s about time SG starts making sense again. After tonight, Challenge Party hopes to prove to you that we want to work with black, white, Indian, Chinese, Latino, Hispanic, Filipino or whatever you are as students. With international students, undergraduates and graduate students, with First Generation College attendees and following the footsteps of generations of Gators in their family, we want to make the future be ours. Be a challenger and join us on this journey. As always, thank you and go Gators.
Marna Weston: That was the Challenge Party presidential candidate Janae Moodie. I now invite a representative from the Impact Party to give their opening statement.
CM: 19:41 TO 30
Ian Green: I want to thank you, the students, for taking the time out of your busy schedules tonight to learn about our vision of UF. In high school, my dad and I built a mentorship program through my church that lifted up young black men and they graduated with a high school diploma. Working with my dad and brother, Luis, reinforced what my dad has told me all along, we rise by lifting others. I’m not here to just list items off my resume, I’m here to talk about the impact I’ve made in the positions I’ve done. As chair of the budget and appropriations committee, I made sure that student fees did not increase and the activity and service fee stayed at $19.06 per credit hour without reducing any of the services that student government provides. As internal vice president of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, I strive for excellence in leadership and academics and succeeding. The year I was on exec, my chapter won IFC Chapter of the Year. I’m also proud to be a Florida Cicerone.
Some of the moments that stick to me the most are when I’m giving a tour to a black family. Inevitably, they drift towards the back of the group and pull me aside to answer the real story about what it’s like to be black at UF. That moment of realness means so much to me. I hope to be a role model for every student this next year at Preview when they look up and realize that they too can aspire for greatness and lead a lasting impact on the University of Florida. Life isn’t a journey that you can do you your own and for that, I’m thankful to have my friends and my running mates David Enriquez and Stefan Sanguyo by my side. We are dedicated to working together to make UF better for all students. My running mate David Enriquez knows what it’s like to feel silent. He grew up in Cuba and immigrated into the United States when he was only 6 years old. He knows how challenging it is to find a voice and how important it is to be a voice for others. His experience in the Hispanic Student Association as the vice president of programming and as the chief of staff for our current student body vice president Mario Agosto, proves he knows exactly what it takes to put on inclusive and exciting programming for the Student Body. Stefan Sanguyo, who’s attendance at the University of Florida is only possible because of his ROTC scholarship, personally understands college affordability. Stefan proves his expertise when he successfully managed a budget of $120,000 as the treasurer of the Asian American Student Union, giving him the experience to manage the Student Government budget. I know he will serve this university with the same integrity as when he serves our country as a member of the United States Air Force. With these two by my side, I am confident that we could build a shared vision for all Gators. We can accomplish ambitious goals for the Student Body and we create a better tomorrow. Throughout this debate, you’re going to hear a lot of talk. What I want you to keep in the back of your mind is a question: who do you think is going to deliver for the Student Body? Because ultimately, this job isn’t about campaigns, or words, or rhetoric -- it’s about action. I hope to show you through this debate that the Impact Party has and always will continue to work for you. Thank you, and Go Gators.
Moderator: That concludes opening comments from the rest of the candidates. The last comment was from Impact Party’s presidential candidate, Ian Green. We will now move (inaudible) to our questions, and the first question is for the Challenge Party. This comes from a student submission. Accessible mental health counseling for all Gators is a campaign issue that all parties have gotten behind. What are some achievable measures that Student Government can take related to mental health counseling on campus? And you have two minutes for your response.
Chase Werther: Thank you for the question. I can speak loud. On our platform we have to advocate for the enhancement of the Intentional Peer Support Program. This program is actually, right now, only has two graduate students and one undergrad student that are working on it. It’s for peer-to-peer support. This is something that’s been done at other schools and we’ve done extensive research on. We’ve been in contact with the CWC at the moment and we’re trying to expand this program. It’s something that can be really helpful for students in between therapy sessions and it’s really important for advocating for students especially after the CWC Senate sit-in that we had. We had so many students come in and talk about their struggles on campus and I think a lot of it has to do honestly with the involvement culture here. Students are so pressured to keep up so much all at once. Students have to be involved in so many different organizations to even feel like they can be involved in Student Government. So, I think a lot of it starts with the culture of care that our party has formed to create and that’s why our slate is coming from people across campus. People that don’t have involvement, that have been able to reach out and show that they’re passionate about change and people that really care about issues like this on campus. I think it’s so important that we have civic engagement here and that people are heard and I feel like our campaign is something that is going to do that and is going to be able to listen to these students and so we want to start with the Intentional Peer Support Program but also advocating for more mental health counselors in the CWC overall.
Moderator: Thank you, Chase Werther — treasurer candidate for the Challenge Party. It’s now time for a one minute rebuttal from Inspire Party. Excuse me, from the Impact Party.
Ian Green: I’m glad to see all three parties supporting the expansion of mental health on our campus. I feel that the year of 2017 has been groundbreaking for the University of Florida but for the United States of America, that mental health is an issue and should be taken as such. The Impact Party has taken steps this entire year to making sure that people are aware of mental health and being able to get the help that they deserve. Whether that’s securing eight out of the 12 CWC counselors already, starting a mental health taskforce, we’re going to continue to make sure that mental health is not an issue on our campus. We want to provide these services and expand them. But, we’ll go beyond that, not only securing the last four, but securing over 12 CWC counselors to make sure that there’s no one waiting in line, they don’t have to feel insecure that they can get the help they need so they can live and thrive in the University of Florida’s campus.
Moderator: Thank you, Ian. Inspire Party:
Revel Lubin: In regards to mental health counselors, I think it’s one thing to mention or to consider the involvement culture here on campus but also to consider the current conditions of the students personally -- where they’re coming from, the pressures to succeed here even as a first generation college student to succeed for those looking up to me or looking up to us as students or even to the student whose parents are telling them ‘Hey, you need to be a doctor and if you aren’t going to be a doctor, than you’re wasting your time in college,’ and those students who have to succeed by the pressures of things coming at home. And also as it relates to achieving and receiving those counselors here on campus, it’s really important to consider those of representation -- those who actually look like us and those who represent us, who can empathize with us. Speaking regarding race, having counselors who would understand what’s like to be black and try to navigate on different campuses on a predominantly white institution and the pressures that comes with that, whether it’s microaggressions or blatant aggressions. Thank you so much.
Moderator: Thank you, Revel. Challenge Party you have 30 minutes-- 30 seconds… they’d love 30 minutes.
Moodie: Alright. In addition, the Counseling and Wellness Center implementing the peer wellness program, one of the other things we do want to focus on is the representation aspect. The demographics is important, and also regarding the demographics part, we do want to be representative of the Student Body, so people are talking to people that are relatable to them. But we also do want to make sure that the peer-to-peer process that has members that are sustainable. The quantity is going to be a huge part in implementing an effective new peer program, with only three currently in place.
Moderator: Thank you, Janae. And we appreciate very much for (inaudible). The second question is for the Impact Party. Accusation have been made against both the Impact and Inspire parties related to the tokenization of minorities. How do you respond to these accusations, and how do you ensure that student government is accessible and representative of all Gators? You have two minutes to respond.
Green: I believe the question should not be about tokenization but about representation. I can only speak for myself, but I have never been anyone’s puppet. I think for myself, and I speak for myself. So I’m going to tailor the question to representation. There needs to be more representation when it comes to Student Government at the University of Florida. We go to a very predominantly white institution. You can even look at all three party slates that black students aren’t being represented in Student Government. My job as your next Student Body president is to change that. Not to change that just as a figurehead and figure out how to work with students now, but it’s about paving a way for future students. And I plan on doing that by increasing our black enrollment, by going out into the community, going to predominantly black high schools, talking to them, helping them out with their college applications, helping them out with their essays, showing them that the University of Florida is a beacon of hope and a place where they can succeed. I assure you as your Student Body president that black enrollment will increase, that the Student Body will be more educated about the issues and we will have more representation from all people of all colors within Student Government. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Inspire Party, you now have a one-minute rebuttal.
Lubin: Let me start off by saying it’s (inaudible) written about how it relates to tokenization. Just want to point it back to Impact Party. I was one of the black members who were a part of the party as well, and, as well as Janae, left the party for being tokenized. Also, my heart goes out to the VP candidate as well as the treasure candidate who is being tokenized. I would like to all to actually consider your party’s president and ask them who actually chose them to represent them, represent on this ticket, because it was not the party president. He was also tokenized as well, and as it relates to claims of the Inspire Party tokenizing, that is a complete lie. I joined Inspire because it doesn’t tokenize people and because of the vision how to level the playing field and make things fair for everybody. Going to high schools to recruit students, [inaudible].
Moderator: Challenge Party, you have a minute rebuttal.
Patel: I still remember in my first year at UF, when I decided I wanted to get involved in Student Government, I sat down with members of both Access and Impact Party. A member of Impact Party told me that my chance of getting on the slate was because Impact needed a certain number of members of my community. That sounds like tokenization to me. I remember a few weeks ago, members of the Inspire Party reached out to me and telling me how they felt like they had been overlooked for spots on the slate because other people who had certain affiliations or certain backgrounds were chosen instead. Ian mentioned in Sunday’s debate as well as today that there are only five black candidates on Senate slates. Challenge Party only has 20 candidates, and we have three of those black candidates. That makes 15 percent of our slate black, which is double, more than double, of the percentage of students at UF who are black. We also want to implement a minority recruitment that will bring in more minorities students, specifically black students who are under enrolled. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Impact Party, you have a 30-second rebuttal.
Green: I have a question for the students: Don’t you find it oddly convenient that roughly a month before the elections that Janae and Revel leave the Impact Party? And they had so many issues within the Impact Party. They never discussed them with me. We have group chats together, they never discussed them with me. I thought them as friends, and they have continued to lie to your face for political theater. If it is not obvious now, it will never be obvious to you because it’s clearly obvious.
Moderator: Our third question is for the Inspire Party. All three Student Body candidates have served in senior leadership roles in Student Government. Reflecting back on your experience with SG, what would you identify as your signature achievement to date. Inspire, you have two minutes to respond.
Lubin: As I reflect on my time within Student Government, I go back to my time as cabinet director in leadership development and involvement. There, during my time as director, I started here within the Leadership Development Institute, and I had so many peers of mine who did not have to oppunitunity to go through such programs as the Leadership Development Institute or FLC. I had many peers who didn’t know how to craft up a resume when I had my resume together. So what I was able to do was start a fresh leadership development organization that was tailored to needs, personalizing it to development, pursuing what is called “Front Line Leaders.” Through these efforts I was able to service over 34 first-year students and helped the naivagate the Swamp. As I reflect on my time as captain director, the relationships I was able to develop with those students has been my most prized possession because I look now at what are the things they are doing and they are being are equals in the black community and they are excelling on campus remembering that I played a small part in their story as Gators. So that’s been my prized possession, has been my most fulfilling involvement on campus, has been being director on that cabinet, has been being able to serve those 34 students through Front Line Leaders. Thank you so much.
Moderator: Challenge Party, you now have a one-minute rebuttal.
Moodie: Thank you for the question. First I do want to address these remarks. One of the main reasons I resigned from Student Government was the hostile work environment. From anytime anyone who wasn’t Impact Party would come into my office, I would be called sketchy for talking to someone that wasn’t in our party. Likewise, if you want to talk about things without talking to me? Through Snapchat messages that can’t be public records requested. There’s a huge issue in Student Government, our lack of transparency and accessibility to our communication. One of the largest things I did during my job as Allocations Chair was I was able to application processes to make it more reader friendly and accessible for students. Likewise, I would hope to improve parking allocations. One of my primary passions is student improvement and I think that allocations process helps students feel like they’re at home. That is something I’m very proud of.
Moderator: Impact, you now have a one-minute rebuttal.
Green: To answer your question, I feel that the most impactful position that I’ve held and done at the University of Florida was as the budgets and appropriations chairman. Over this past summer, I planned having unanimously to passed the activities and services budget at the amount of $20,411,352. Not only did I keep activities and services fee at $19.06 per credit hour but I was also about to continue to keep raising services. Whether that was increasing jobs for students at the Reitz Union or expanding the hours of the Reitz Union Arts and Crafts Center or in the computer lab, I have been able to champion, to actually champion tangible change that has had an impact on students’ lives. I’m here to make a big difference and make a big difference in your time at the University of Florida and doing it with tangible, tangible change.
Moderator: Inspire Party, you now have a 30-second rebuttal.
Lubin: As I’ve mentioned before, my most fulfilling involvement on campus has been through Student Government’s Cabinet and being able to serve student and wanting to take part in their personal development and their leadership development as individuals and that’s leaders on this campus and that’s what I’m intentionally about and that’s what I’m all about is about other people and being able to see them grow. [inaudible] Thank you all so much.
Moderator: Our fourth question is for the Challenge Party. In light of incidents within Greek-level organizations, Florida State University suspended Greek life and the issue has reverberated nationally as well as with the Florida Board of Governors. If elected, what role if any would you play in the discussion of Greek life on campus. You have two minutes.
Moodie: So as someone that is Greek, I love the Greek community here at the University of Florida. I do think that at the national scale that has been instances that shed Greek life in a negative connotation but I do not think that that is the true culture of Greek life. Greek life allows me to have a place to have a home. Likewise it allows people, for instance for me, for me I am a Christian and it has provided me a Christian community. If you do have philanthropy you want to do, you also have access to that through Greek life. I do think that a lot of times Greek life gets a bad rap, but I think that’s because bad things do happen sometimes in Greek life and there’s way to handle that through education and also through changing the conduct process. With that being said, I don’t think that what’s going on at FSU should be adjusted into our Greek life. Some of my best experiences have been with my friends in Greek life and I don’t want to make it separate, marginalize it from any of the student organizations that we have here that students are able to find their community within. On the Board of Trustees, if I was asked about this, I would be honest and talk about my own experiences. I do understand that I would also have to advocate to promote safety within Greek life and I’m more than happy to do that and I know that people here care about Greek life within it and they want it to stay and so people will be willing to meet those strides that are necessary in order to preserve the community. Thank you.
Moderator: Impact Party, you may now have a one-minute rebuttal.
Green: As a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and also serving on the executive board and two executive positions, I have had a profound impact on my own by being a part of such an organization. It’s given me a sense of community that I never saw coming, and I feel that the events that have happened across our country are very just unfortunate, and it shouldn’t put a blind eye to all members of Greek life. However, I’m not just going to just talk about to the Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees about my issues and about the issues I see here in Greek life, but how actually taking steps forward to correct them. Not only did I serve on my fraternity’s executive board, I also serve as a Florida Greek ambassador where I talk to all four councils here at the University of Florida about alcohol toleration, and sexual assault prevention, actually being able to articulate my way in how to show that these issues are actual issues, not only at the University of Florida campus, but across the country and it needs to be stopped because Greek life is special and it needs to stay special.
Moderator: Inspire Party, you now a have one-minute rebuttal.
Desai: Hi, thank you for your question. I’m actually not in Greek life, but I’m a huge advocate for Greek life. I’m currently aware of the current issues such as FSU's wanting to randomly drug test their Greek life community and that’s a question that’s being brought to the University of Florida as well. There are three points I would like to make about greek life, and the first as a vice president of the Student Government, I would like to enhance their training on sexual assault and diversity training, and not just for the president and treasurer, for all executive members of their chapters. The second is I want to work with them more, make sure that they’re co-sponsoring events with the Student Government Cabinet, that way we can get can exposed and the last point is to make sure they’re working and exposing the Greek communities to cultural organizations and vice versa that way we can all be equally exposed to them and access with them. Thank you.
Moderator: Challenge Party, you may now have a 30 second rebuttal.
Moodie: When I was on my exec — well not executive — but when I did stuff for Alpha Delta Pi, which is my sorority, I was in charge of cultural competency. And I do think that that was something that was a huge opening door for dialogue in our chapter. It would be awesome if while still with the independents of Greek life, co-programming with Sorority and Fraternity Affairs to promote that type of dialogue and change the culture overall, so we can see less incidences that lead to unfortunate events.
Moderator: Thank you. Our fifth question is for the Impact Party, and the statement is a student submission. Many students believe that Student Government predominantly focuses on undergraduate students living in Gainesville as opposed to graduate and professional students or our online students. If elected, how would you ensure that these student’s voices are being heard and best represented? You have two minutes to respond.
Enriquez: I’m very close friends with a lot of people in IA, and I can tell you that they are some of the most essential members of our Gator community, not to mention that the lifeblood of everything that moves forward in the Gator Nation has to do with our graduate community. Should I be elected as your Student Body Vice President, I would make sure that the programming here at the University of Florida is not only tangible on campus but throughout the state of Florida by doing these virtual meetings and office hours that bring accessibility here to the campus from across the state and across the nation, we have to make sure that our accessibility here on campus is not only for those that have the privilege to come here to the University of Florida physically but to the entire Gator Nation that is across the state, our country and proudly in the world.
Moderator: Inspire Party, you now have a minute for rebuttal.
Bethencourt: Definitely, thank you so much for that question. As far as graduate students go, I think it’s important to recognize that they are an underrepresented group on campus, given the fact that the undergraduate population here at UF is so much larger than graduate students, it’s important to hone in a lot of our time to make sure they are equally represented. That involves working with the GAU to make sure that all graduate students have an equal voice that undergraduate students would have. And online voting is also a huge thing when you consider that. Some students aren’t here and don’t have the means to be able to attend the University of Florida and online voting preventing that would ensure that graduate students’ voices are also heard here on campus. Another thing to focus on is just giving that opportunity. You know, maybe PaCE students for example get to choose if they would like to access some of the resources that are offered to undergraduate students so maybe graduates students could have that opportunity as well. Hey, do you think you’re going to be using Rec Sports this semester? If not, that could be a fee that could be removed from your overall pricing. Thank you so much.
Moderator: Challenge Party, your rebuttal.
Patel: I very much agree that certain student groups have been marginalized at UF. We focus so much on the undergraduate population here in Gainesville but there are so many students that that does not include. For example, satellite students. Challenge Party has reached out to satellite students before making our platform to see what they wanted and we actually created a satellite campus specific platform that we shared in Facebook groups for satellite campuses. We also support our graduate students. We want to see fee waivers for graduate assistants as well as well as increase childcare options for graduate students at UF who have families. Additionally, many of our graduate students are international, and we would like to offer student legal services for international and undocumented students. We also want to implement online voting that will allow students such as Innovation Academy, satellite students, students studying abroad to vote without having to be here in Gainesville. Thank you.
Moderator: Impact Party, you may now have a 30-second rebuttal.
Enriquez: The Impact Party stands 100 percent behind the undocumented community. They’re a vibrant part of our international students and there’s an essential platform point that is on the Challenge side. This is the party that supports the DREAM Act. That this is the party that gives credit where it is due. One of the reasons why that is not on our platform is because that initiative is an initiative of the Hispanic Student Association Office of Political Affairs so we will stand behind that initiative. We also want to give credit where it is due to the Hispanic community for their tremendous efforts to move that forward. Thank you.
Moderator: Our sixth question is for the Inspire Party. It was taken in a student submission. As the fall semester highlighted, the University of Florida as a public institution may encounter speakers and speech that many find offensive or intolerable. If elected, how would you navigate these situations. You have a two-minute opportunity for response.
Revel: Right so as of just recent events I completely disagree that we allowed him to actually come and speak on campus however I am cognizant of this First Amendment gripe. However, the first thing I would have done is to be more proactive. And the first thing I would do is be more proactive with communicating with different cultural organizations on campus so that way when we do have different, these type of instances, we already have a group of students, a task force, or even within cabinet as a I’ve been communicating with Bijal about creating this task force when we go over different hypotheticals and go over UF’s history not just in the past 10 years but UF histories in the past two years with social injustices and social incidents on our campus so we can go ahead and discuss ways that we can proactively and intentionally move past these things. I would have been, I would have been a champion for getting classes cancelled for those students including myself who did not feel comfortable nor safe on campus when we had a bigot come and speak here. Thank you.
Moderator: Challenge Party, you have a one-minute rebuttal.
Werther: Yes, so while Challenge Party does recognize First Amendment rights, I do think there needs to be more initiative to kind of hinder hate speech. I don’t think that this is something that should have been allowed on our campus. I was a student that did march to Tigert Hall and was locked out by President Kent Fuchs when I was trying to talk about why I didn’t want him on campus but also the fact that even when he did come to campus, that students First Amendment rights were also hindered when they weren’t allowed to have water bottles, when they were discouraged from going, and I really think that this campus didn’t support those students in this initiative. I also know that a lot of students went to Senate and demanded that we have the day off of school because it was dangerous and I really don’t feel like our student senators listened to us. They spent a lot of time on their phones, on their computers, and ignoring the students that were giving their speeches about how terrified they were about this little neo-Nazi talking onto our campus. I don’t think that this is something we should allow and i think that this is something I want to (inaudible)
Moderator: Impact party you now have one-minute rebuttal.
Green: I find it disgusting that they’re fabricating a story that student senators decide when we have class. If it was up to me, we wouldn’t have class all the time. I would stay at home. Disregard that part, but I feel the reason why this is being used they were too many discussing, and not doing action. I told you at the beginning with my opening statement, the Impact Party is about action. It’s about working with administration the moment I become Student Body president and creating an action plan so bigots do not come to the University of Florida to speak. And if by First Amendment they do, that all students feel safe. Because it was absolutely insane that my parents had to call me and tell me, ‘Ian, boy you better stay home.’ And I don’t want that for any other student at the University of Florida.
Moderator: Inspire Party you have 30 seconds final privilege before the next question
Lubin: I take much pride in our underdogs in the Senate who actually champion that protest in Senate so that they can hear the student voice. As Ian mentioned, partnering and working with administration. I think what Impact Party has been doing has missed out for so long and actually working and partner with students is something that, the first thing that has to be addressed, needs to be addressed. Working with students and advertising their voices. [inaudible]. Bigots like Richard Spencer ….. Again, I just want to reiterate it’s important to be proactive other than reactive.
Moderator: Thank you. Our seventh question is for the Challenge Party. What do you perceive to be the biggest challenge for the Cabinet and what would you do to address it? You have two minutes.
Moodie: Sure, so one of the biggest issues that I think would be a challenge within the - you said the Cabinet, correct?
Moderator: That’s correct.
Moodie: Within the Cabinet, I think is division of responsibility. Currently, although we do have three different sections, one of the sections that I do think could really be improved is student life. Particularly more diversity for transfer students and international students. They don’t feel like they have enough of a platform for them in Student Government. Under the vice president’s role, I think that could be expanded so we can make them have an easier transition to the University of Florida by having pointed programming for that specific community, whether it’s providing them with the resources so they understand the resources that are available to them, or providing them with different mixers so that they can learn about other students from all over the world that are here at the University of Florida to further their education, even who sometimes go back to their country. [inaudible] 53:15 I do think that as a whole, there are other areas besides diversity and student life that could be improved but this is something that I’ve heard on the campaign over and over again so students initiatives start here… That came here in their third year, or came here after one year that just don’t see that easy transition that we have when we come here for freshmen Summer B or for freshmen in the Fall. Thank you.
Moderator: Impact Party, rebuttal.
Enriquez: I have had the privilege serving as the vice president of programming for the Hispanic Student Association this past year and it has been the honor of my life. I’ve also had the honor of serving as chief of staff for current SG cabinets and one of the wonderful things about the University of Florida is the already diverse communities that we have here and that’s what cabinet needs to tap into with passion, by revitalizing the SG diversity and programming committee. That’s the way you co-sponsor successfully; by going into communities, by being there visibly, and being present and giving them your hand and saying ‘Let’s do these events together.’ Most importantly, intentional marketing. Cabinet already does a fantastic job putting on countless events last semester. The problem is we don’t have that intentional outreach and should i be elected I guarantee that this is going to be the vice presidency of passion, outreach, community engagement and making sure that the Student Body knows that this cabinet is here for them, today, tomorrow and forever here at the University of Florida.
Moderator: Inspire, you have one minute.
Desai: Thank you for your question. The biggest challenge of cabinets I believe is have with SG … I want to make sure my cabinet members and Revel are selected not by free appointment but they’re actually selected based off of their [inaudible]. I want to make sure that cabinet [inaudible] themselves to the Student Body. As the leader of a large organization on campus, I’ve never even seen cabinet work with me. I want to make sure that cabinet is showcasing their work and their talents to the campus and working with students from all organizations. And in addition to that, I want to make sure that cabinet has room for transfer students, graduate programs and online students to make sure that they’re all being recognized because they’re all a part of our Student Body. Thank you.
Moderator: Challenge, 30 seconds.
Patel: I feel that one of the best ways to address issues that cabinet is facing is to put people that are actually passionate about cabinet issues into these positions, not just people who have certain affiliations and who want to fill lines on resumes. I think that we need to put people into these positions who are representative of the Student Body and who want to reach out to other organizations on this campus and put on great co-programs with them. As a member of the Indian Student Association Holi director, I’ve had the privilege to work with cabinet and putting on a great Holi event, but this is one of the very few examples.
Moderator: Our eighth question is for the Impact Party. Student Government currently funds over 300 student organizations and allocates over $1 million. What, if anything, would you change about funding for student organizations? Two minutes please.
Sanguyo: What I want to change about the budget is that we need to understand not all organizations fit in certain criteria. Because of this, we have organizations that are commendable, but they find themselves in violation of the 800 codes. For example, [inaudible] mission helps teach students how to create 3D printed prosthetics for children. SG had to deny funding for these products because these products were considered ‘fishing material,’ which are against the 800 codes. Now while I believe that these are well-intended codes, I feel that they prevent gators from putting on great programs, events and that it should be reevaluated for these specific limitations.
Moderator: Inspire Party, rebuttal.
Lubin: With funding student organizations, I think it’s really important to keep track of them actually spending [inaudible] allocations with the smaller organizations and also finding ways that we are working with the smaller organizations and that they’re not overlooked by the big 8 organizations on campus and i think specifically just want to diverse the 800 codes. I think one thing that’s important to specify for students who’s looking to purchase different clothing item, to let them know that it’s okay to purchase an item that’s more than $15 dollars but SG doesn’t specify what SG will cover up to $15 per clothing item so that way they won’t redirect and retract when they are trying to put on effective programs on campus, and also get out their swagged out gear for the Student Body.
Moderator: Challenge Party, you have one minute to rebuttal.
Werther: Thank you so much for that question. I would like to implement an auditing program that would ensure that the really big orgs that are requesting large amounts of money are actually bringing those money to the students and that when they’re not, we can find a way to reallocate those funds to smaller orgs that aren’t getting enough funds or representation in student Government. Thank you.
Moderator: Impact Party, you have 30 seconds, final privilege.
Stefan: I just want to add one more thing that it’s very important to remember that the needs of the student body may change and that we must look closely at the student body’s needs in order to create a budget that positively be useful for all gators. Thank you.
Moderator: Our last question is for the Inspire Party. In 2017, the University of Florida was the first florida university to break into the top-10 national public university list, according to U.S. News and World Report. As we look toward the future, how do you see students and student government contributing to preeminence, and potentially moving us into the top 5? You have two minutes.
Lubin: Thank you. As we look forward it’s a huge accomplishment and a huge honor that we did crack the code on being a top-10 institution, however, although it’s worthy of glorifying what does that actually mean for student admissions. And considering the fact that admissions could actually go down and with minority rates specifically, black enrollment on campus is already dying down and dwindling down and what does that mean for them? We don’t want to lessen admissions rates for the home grown Florida people here who look at the University of Florida as a flagship school and open the doors for international students. We don’t want to forget about homegrown florida at all. So, what does that mean? Do we have more resources to fund [inaudible] organizations, do we have more resources that actually operates for minority programming on our campus. We talk about preeminence, but what does that actually mean and what does that look like for the student body? It is a shame that we have to have senate meetings and have senators step in there and talk about demanding counseling and wellness professionals to be in those offices and not having students waiting hours upon hours, not even hours, but even up to weeks, to meet with a therapist or meet with a somebody who can actually listen to them and actually diagnose some of their needs and their deepest concerns on campus I think it’s just one thing, you can glorify greatness but the real question is what does that mean for the everyday Gator. What does that mean for the homegrown student here in Florida who view the University of Florida as a flagship school and what does that mean for our resources on our campus. Do we have increased resources? It looks like we do not have, so those are the questions that we have to answer and also bridging the gap from reaching in the shadows of the campus and uniting people and that’s how the students will contribute to tapping into top five. Uniting and also capitalizing on our resources.
Moderator: Challenge Party, you may now have a 1-minute rebuttal.
Moodie: Thank you. So I think one of the ways we can go from top 10 to top 5 is by making sure that our top 5 institution is actually going to be a model of the diversity of our [inaudible.] Currently, we do have a diverse body that we need to make strides to truly be representing of the black population to represent a 25 percent. I do appreciate the university’s efforts to even though we are currently at 22 percent, but I don’t think that we are truly making intentional efforts to increase the amount of diversity in other communities. Likewise I think that we are pumping money into STEM, because STEM often times is used to affect our ranking but I don’t think that we’re paying as much attention to our liberal arts majors. A lot of liberal arts majors feel like they’re into, whether its music or whether it’s theatre, I think we do need to re-avert our focus on the other areas that truly make us a holistic institution so that will go from No. 9 to No. 1.
Moderator: Impact, you may now have a one-minute rebuttal.
Green: I find it humorous how Revel brought up Senate meetings, when the only Senate meeting he’s been to on his entire term has been on October 3rd as the meeting minutes reflect. But going on to our actually going from a Top 10 to a top 5 is inclusion, innovation and career empowerment. Inclusion: We have to show and be intentional with open arms to all people of color. Not only by making the African American studies program a department, but also try for a clean dream act, not only in Tallahassee but also in D.C. Big thing is also innovation. Being able to increase stipends to our graduate students so not only they have the resources to fund the next invention or to fund the next company, but also And also career empowerment. We have a top-10 career resource center but we can do better than that. Right now it’s under construction, so being able to expand the CRC to other live services so students who are already at the University of Florida campus can still get the resume critiquing and the resume building that they need to get the jobs of their dreams.
Moderator: Inspire Party you may now have 30 seconds, final privilege.
Lubin: Students contribute to being a top-five institution once we can tear down the walls that divides us and actually bridge — build bridges that’s going to connect all of us, those powers and numbers. A house divided cannot stand, so once we unite as a Student Body and continue to build those bridges we come together as a powerful Student Body and we will tap in and break the doors down of top five.
Moderator: Thank you all very much for your answers, your very thorough answers, to the questions. At this point, we conclude the question portion of the debate. I will now move into closing statements. By order from the beginning, Inspire Party will now have the opportunity for a three-minute closing statement.
Lubin: The Inspire Party, as I mentioned in my opening statement, we’re a group of people who came together and really were audacious enough to have a student government that actually serves the students, that was not self-centered but was others centered. A party that actually believed that if you can bridge these gaps and tear down these walls one wall at a time, one day at a time, one step at a time, we can actually bring about positive change on this campus. The changes that this campus has been crying out for and yearning for, from a system that continues to cripple people from actually moving upward and onward, accomplishing things that’s just unimaginable. You all have had the opportunity to hear from the candidates firsthand. Here's some of our thoughts, I just ask that you would all forget about the affiliations on our campus but to really dig deep and seek inside your heart ‘Who is real? Who is not over here playing politics with you all and telling you all what you want to hear?’ And forget about the visions and the table, the seat at the table that someone offers you and gives you a little bit of crumbs. They’ve been feeding you all garbage for so long, it’s time to push the plate away. And not just encourage you all, not just ask you all but really urge you to think about the things that you all have heard and seen and done in Senate. Think about the things that you all have heard and seen and done against your own moral compass, against your own will and consider those things and tell me if that is real, tell me if that is okay. And I just challenge you all to think within that and also just seek your heart and just examine yourself. Consider the candidate who’s going to be here for you students. Consider the candidates that’s going to be a champion for you all . Consider the candidates whose self interests is the interests of other people. Consider that. All the hoopla and positions and promises, forget about that. Do what is real. Do what you know in your heart, and I just encourage you all to vote Inspire ‘cause we all aspire to inspire people, and thank you so much.
Moderator: Challenge Party, you now have three minutes for your closing statement.
Moodie: I want to thank you all for coming and giving us the opportunity to express the vision for Challenge Party. We go to the University of Florida, not the University of Chuck E Cheese. Minorities are not tokens. During the winter break, I was asked to run as a presidential candidate for Impact Party with the assurance of $10,000 in available funds. It sure is easier than starting a new party, right? My response text was clearly a rejection. You see, I knew first hand that even as your president I would be a powerless name on the ballot as the higher ups called the shots. I chose students over party because you deserve better. Furthermore, why would I put my face to a party that saw me as a black female checkmark? I’d be silly being anti-Greek but I’d be a sellout to be pro-Impact with what I know now. No more. On the other side, we have Inspire Party who also requested me as their presidential candidate … , meanwhile creating their own systemic structure, limiting caucus with the students. Talk about choices. Challenge Party is committed to shattering glass ceilings to make Student Government representative of the Student Body, a Student Government with principals and transparency, one that honors and values you. A Student Government that is relevant and relatable to you. A Student Government that extends beyond campaign season. Time and time again, we hear sentimental promise of pillars to political parties. But how about addressing actual problems? It seems like Challenge Party has a platform that Inspire inspires and Impact Party needed our platform in order to move Gators forward. I should have known. Together we shine, together better. I’m all about working across the aisle toward a relationship, but we need a party that will put in the effort to conduct the research necessary to serve our campus. Their adoption of our platform is a clear indication of complacency. I know that politics is a heavy topic in 2018, so that’s why I wanted to put this on [indistinguishable.] Achievements are checking things off, accomplishments are getting things changed. Challenge Party is truly grassroots. There are no deals and empty wallets influencing our campaign, we are not influenced by politics. I did not choose the easy way to presidency because I wanted the right way for students, and that’s what Shayli and Chase as my virtuous running mates. On February 20 and 21, no will watch you vote at the ballot. Vote your conscious. Vote for the party that you think will take our campus to the next level. Are you up for the Challenge? We are. Thank you.
Moderator: We will allow for impact party to have a 3-minute closing statement
Green: Thank you all for taking the time this evening to let us share our vision of UF. I hope that you have a better understanding of how Stefan, David and I will create a Student Government that works for and welcomes every Gator. Now I know this election has been very interesting. Both my opponents were with the Impact Party and were very well-established within Student Government. To me, it’s weird that they want to be Student Body president. But I hope I made it clear to you tonight I want to serve the students. I’m not here to make a point or add a line to my resume. I’m here to make a difference. And as you see, Janae claims she wasn’t able to accept an offer because of her values. That offer never existed, and it’s sad to see you lose some of your values tonight with what you said. I am committed to true leadership that every student deserves. And tonight, you have a choice. Three parties, three tickets, only two visions of UF. I see a Student Body that cares for each other, and a UF that aspires to greatness. They see a Student Body that is pitted against each other and a UF that will always be divided. Divided on how to provide free menstrual products and divided on how to provide financial support for mental health. These are important issues that Inspire party has twisted to keep students angry with each other. So I asked you: which UF do you see every day when you’re walking to class? Do you see a UF that will always be broken? Or do you see one that can be better together? Do you want a party that focuses on the flaws? Or do you want a party that will actually fix them? Do you want a platform fixed on buzzwords? Or do you want a platform built on reality? This election, you have to decide. On February 20 and 21, cast your vote for a party, for a platform that believes that students always come first. Vote for a party that has and will continue to deliver for the Student Body. Cast your vote for the Impact Party. Thank you for coming, and as always, Go Gators.