When I started at the University of Florida this past fall, my goals were to serve the Student Body and ensure that every student’s voice was heard. When I slated with Inspire Party last September, I believed I was joining a party based on the principles of accountability, inclusivity and transparency. With Inspire Party I saw a way to make tangible change for the Student Body and achieve the mission I set out to accomplish, but soon after being elected as the Lakeside Senator, I began to question what Inspire truly stands for. As the Lakeside Senator, I have always put the students before party. Early in my Senate career, I met with Student Body President Smith Meyers and Senate President Ian Green. During these meetings, I saw opportunities to bring about bipartisan change for the Student Body. However, I found myself being increasingly questioned by members of my party as to why I would even attempt to work with members of the Impact Party.

Since October, I have served on the executive board of Inspire Party, and I was part of the committee that selected the executive ticket. During our executive board discussions, I noticed that extremely qualified and dedicated student leaders were no longer being considered because of their race or gender. The very tokenization that party leadership condemned elsewhere in Student Government was front and center when selecting the Inspire Party’s executive ticket. 

The final straw for me was when I recently published a bipartisan statement with Budget and Appropriations Chairwoman Emily Dunson regarding the Gators Matter, Period. initiative. Soon after publishing the statement, I was aggressively attacked by Inspire leadership because I put the students before what was best for Inspire’s brand. Inspire only supports the Gators Matter, Period. initiative because it was a convenient way to attack Impact, not because they genuinely care about the issue. When Senate President Ian Green announced that GatorWell and the Infirmary would begin providing menstrual hygiene products, an Inspire senator commented that it was “not our victory.” This made me even more discouraged and confused: Why wouldn’t a victory for the students be a victory for Inspire? 

When I questioned Inspire Party’s leadership about these concerns and others, I was swiftly and unceremoniously thrown off the executive board.

Inspire Party leadership should be ashamed of themselves for pushing a false narrative for their own self benefit. How can a party based on the principles of accountability, inclusivity and transparency act in a manner that is so immoral?

Today I announce my official disaffiliation with Inspire Party. I can no longer stand with a party that does not stand with the students. For the remainder of my term as the Lakeside Senator, I remain committed to the students and will serve as an independent senator. I will report only to the students and the students alone.

Yours in Service,

Branden Pearson