As a first-generation college student I was eager to learn about all of the different opportunities that the University of Florida presented both academically and professionally—not only for myself, but for every student attending UF. I viewed each position in leadership and campus involvement as an opportunity to make a positive difference in my peers’ lives, to make their experiences better and to encourage them to become their best versions of themselves. This is ultimately what led me on my path to Student Government: knowing leadership was my best chance at a meaningful way to create lasting change for my peers and the students who would come after us.
I joined the Impact Party with the intent of facilitating this positive change, and as I grew to work with the people involved I learned that our goals may have been the same, but our paths were not. I came to the realization that for them—for Impact—everything in Student Government at UF was going to happen through business: Their concern quickly became prioritizing politics over people and pride over progress.
I have witnessed countless students become marginalized by Impact’s administration, including myself. Impact leadership has given positions in order to fill quotas. Its seemingly diverse membership gave Impact leadership the ability to employ diversity as a buzzword in their marketing because there was a body of people that could be pointed at should the party’s commitment to equality come into question. This is to say that our voices and perspectives were not entirely valued. Impact treated many among its ranks as though they were there to fill seats rather than to make a difference. My authority was consistently undermined by exclusive meetings and by political positioning meant to discredit me. I was not welcomed as an equal, but I was treated like a distant observer behind the shadows of Impact’s operations.
Impact claims that it works to serve the students, but my experience suggests otherwise. I have consistently witnessed its administration delay actions and hinder progress in order to cripple bipartisanship because of the party’s inability to receive all of the glory for key initiatives. As I reflect on my vision for Student Government at UF, I sincerely believe that student leadership should not be about blind allegiance to a party or desperate pursuits of positions, but I believe that student leadership should be about using platforms to positively influence students’ lives. I became uncomfortable in Impact’s ranks; it became draining to put on an Impact shirt because I did not believe in Impact. I had to keep reminding myself that it was not about me, but it was about the students that I had the opportunity to serve.
Members of Impact leadership are not all nefarious; however, I believe the culture within the party has lost sight of its purpose. Impact’s members understand that if they follow the party’s rules, it will help them reach their personal goals, whether those goals are a seat on a committee or even the Student Body Presidency. They become willing to compromise what they believe in so that they can reach these goals. They become awestruck by the promises the party makes them, so they turn blind eyes to the injustices happening around them. The work becomes about the empty promises the party makes. I long for the day that student leaders will stand up and realize that what they have sought was based on deception, which is a perception of naught.
I refuse to turn a blind eye to the injustices that I have witnessed Impact Party commit—it is for this reason that I have chosen to de-affiliate from Impact Party. I will, however, continue my term as Student Body Treasurer. To me, leaving my position would only serve as a buyout to the contract that I have with the student body. I will remain unwavering in my service to all students.
I want to create a sustainable means of ensuring that all voices are heard and that all students have equal opportunity. It is for this outcome that I have chosen to cast my lot with Inspire Party. Inspire Party is composed of students with genuine intentions to bring accountability, inclusivity and transparency to Student Government. I have witnessed their effort as a minority party to give a voice to the voiceless—to the everyday Gator. I believe in their purpose, and I recognize that building a party around these values has a greater promise of longevity in serving students than an independent affiliation ever could. I am looking forward to what we can accomplish together for the benefit of the Student Body.
Revel Lubin is the UF Student Body Treasurer.