Even as a naïve freshman, I have already been exposed to far more Student Government politics than anyone would ever want to know. Ever since the "green means go" scandal in which several members of the Gator Party were implicated for fixing interviews so that only individuals with select organizational affiliations would be selected, I have been interested in discovering what really goes on in SG elections.
Florida Blue Key, UF's equivalent to Skull and Bones, started in the 1930s and propagated a system to elect Southern white male elites to high office at the university. This society refused to open its membership to women and minorities until the 1970s, and even then it was because they saw electoral opportunity. Florida Blue Key decided to offer a relatively unchanging number of senate seats to members of groups like Black Student Union and Hispanic Student Association in exchange for support. Eventually minorities were offered positions as vice president and treasurer, but there was a catch - minorities were not allowed to run for Student Body president.
If you go to the Reitz Union on the third floor, one thing you will notice is that the vast majority of our Student Body presidents have been white males. If you check their organizational affiliations, you will find that the vast majority of them are from a handful of fraternities. The few exceptions to this rule are people who fought against the system after they discovered that it was not about who was the most qualified.
The system that now supports the Unite Party had its dirty laundry exposed in 1996, when some of its members lied and accused their opponent of being a child molester, which resulted in an $85,000 settlement against Florida Blue Key. The Unite Party is the newest iteration of the Gator Party line that has ruled UF's Student Government for more than 70 years. It has been able to do this because no one challenges it.
There are wonderful people and outstanding candidates running with the Unite Party, but UF is better than its system of Student Government. Some of the best student leaders ignore SG because they see it for what it has become: an institution to aid in the padding of resumes that does not reward merit. SG is unimportant in the grand scheme of life, but nevertheless, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "a threat to justice somewhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
What I propose is that the members of Unite Party that are knowingly submitting themselves to such an immoral system withdraw and run under a different party or not at all.
Travis Hornsby is a political science and economics freshman.