Inspire Party was founded upon three pillars: accountability, inclusivity, and transparency. In light of this, we would like to respond thoroughly to the recent allegations of Senator Branden Pearson.
At first, we believed Pearson to be an ambitious change-maker. However, after receiving a position on Inspire’s executive board, Pearson began to change: his eagerness became controlling, his suggestions became commanding, and we began to question whether his intent was to serve the students or himself.
When members proposed ideas for legislation to serve their constituents, Pearson rudely insulted them and shot them down. When members of our caucus voiced their displeasure or disagreed with him, he would leave group chats.
Inspire leadership did not reprimand Pearson for working with another party. As the minority in Senate, we would not have been able to pass legislation without doing so. Several Inspire caucus representatives have met with Impact leadership on multiple occasions; because of this, we have been able to effectively lobby for increased funding for our Counseling and Wellness Center, increase advertising of Student Government elections, establish an MCDA-Senate liaison and advocate for a pilot program for the provision of free menstrual hygiene products.
However, Pearson refused to work within his own team. He claimed Inspire leadership condemned him for working on the Gators Matter, Period initiative. This is incorrect. Rather, Inspire’s leadership was disappointed in Pearson for publicly settling on the issue without coordinating with the rest of the party. Our team reminded Pearson that Inspire has a task force of senators assigned to this issue who have dedicated time and research to make this a reality. These Senators, through their experience and research, could have advocated for an expanded version of the pilot program.
Pearson, as a member of Inspire’s executive board, and as an Inspire Senator, helped establish the rules that govern our caucus. However, he failed to uphold those rules in meetings and group messages. Insulting, belittling, and ignoring the voices of party members cannot be tolerated.
Such behaviors were also reflected in Pearson’s interactions with Inspire’s executive board. In the Fall, Pearson expressed discontent with a fellow Inspire senator. In order to properly respect his concerns, our executive board met to discuss the issue. The discussion was hours in length and included a full pro-con debate with designated time for each executive board member to speak and be heard. Pearson’s position was that Inspire’s executive board should make a decision that would affect all Inspire senators. The board voted against taking action, allowing the senators to make the decision themselves.
Pearson quickly became outraged. Pearson and a mentor of his began sending insults through GroupMe and Facebook Messenger to another Inspire senator. At one point, Pearson sent 14 consecutive messages to this party member; his messages contained statements such as “resign or I will get signatures” (to force his removal from caucus leadership), “we can do it the easy or hard way,” and “congrats on being a horrible leader.” Meanwhile, Pearson’s mentor attacked this party member through Facebook Messenger.
Inspire’s leadership attempted to forge a better relationship with Pearson, but he continued to insult and belittle party members. This inhibited his performance as an executive board member and directly impacted the morale of the party. Because his behavior continued to subvert Inspire’s values, he was removed from Inspire’s executive board on Jan. 27.
Inspire Party believes in upholding these values, even when it’s not easy — even when we’re threatened that it will hurt our brand. We decided that it was important for us to respond thoroughly to Pearson’s claims so that the Student Body would have an honest understanding of who is representing them. However, we will not dwell on this situation any longer: Inspire Party’s mission is to make a lasting, positive difference for students, and we will be focusing all of our resources on continuing to make that a reality.
Inspire Senate Caucus and Party Executive Board