In a fiery debate between the candidates from three UF political parties, Student Body president hopefuls bickered about politics and the tokenization of minorities.
During the debate, presidential candidates Janae Moodie (Challenge Party), Ian Green (Impact Party) and Revel Lubin (Inspire Party) went back-and-forth about tokenization of minorities in Inspire and Impact after a student questioned if candidate selection was based on identity rather than qualifications.
“I’ve never been anyone’s puppet,” Green said in the debate.
He added that he found it convenient that Moodie and Lubin left Impact a month before the election. Moodie resigned from her position as Senate Pro-Tempore in early January, and Lubin disaffiliated from Impact the following week.
Moodie rebutted Green, saying she didn’t resign for her own personal gain.
“One of the primary reasons I resigned from Student Government was because of the hostile work environment,” Moodie said.
Moodie said the arguments about each party’s history and all three candidates’ past with Impact was tense.
“It was definitely emotionally charged, but I think that’s what you can expect when you’re passionate about student issues,” she said. “People are passionate about the fact that there’s no access to Student Government.”
David Enriquez, who is running for Student Vice-President with Impact, said the debate was competitive.
“We were honest when we needed to, even when some would consider too blunt,” Enriquez said.
Enriquez said Impact does not grant people positions based on identity.
“I think it’s a distraction from the real conversation, which is that Janae and Revel want to be Student Body president,” he said. “The question is who is qualified and who has the best platform. Rather than addressing that, they kept going back to this ridiculous accusation.”
Impact plans to do more to increase diversity by co-sponsoring events and increasing the rate of black students coming into the university, Enriquez said. He said Green plans to travel to local high schools to help minority students learn how to apply to UF if he is elected.
“We’ve had a historic commitment to diversity,” he said. “It’s the Impact Party that has produced pro-Latino legislation on the Senate floor.”
Alyssa Bethencourt, Inspire’s Student Body treasurer candidate, said the party stands for a positive campaign and would never speak down to other candidates.
“I think some of the slander that was thrown, specifically between Impact Party and Challenge Party, could’ve been limited,” Bethencourt said. “I felt that we were actually losing purpose of the questions that were being asked. That’s a disservice to the students.”
During the debate, Challenge accused Inspire of releasing a platform that mirrored many of their own points.
“I think it’s important to realize that a lot of the points Inspire has on our Spring platform is also on our Fall platform,” Bethencourt said. “Challenge Party and Inspire party do stand for the same thing, and I’m happy to see whoever is elected in this position will serve our Student Body.”