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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

University officials have decided not to punish members of the Unite Party implicated for hazing and voter coercion in a recording of a February campaign meeting.

The audio recording includes a member of the Unite Party congratulating Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority for not letting pledges eat until they voted in the Student Government election. In the video, a Unite Party official also commends Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority for rewarding its members with alcohol after they voted.

The taping of the private meeting was a violation of the Student Honor Code, said UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes, but it has raised concerns about SG electoral processes and organizational requirements.

“It’s not being used as a punitive tool,” Sikes said. “It’s a learning exercise.”

After the release of the tape, Sikes said the Division of Student Affairs has held a meeting with student organizations to review its policies on campaign ethics, SG processes and organizational requirements.

Student Alliance Senate Leader Jonathan Ossip, who received the recording from a house representative present at the Unite Party meeting, said the audio is proof of voter coercion and a corrupt system.

“If this is what’s going on, then it’s not a democracy,” Ossip said.

Ossip said evidence of this sort of systemic corruption has been brought to the attention of administrators in the past, but nothing has ever been done about it because there has never been enough proof.

Now, even after they have it recorded, Ossip said the administration is still going to try and sweep it under the rug.

“I just don’t know what they want us to show them before they take action,” Ossip said.

Ossip said these sort of politics, conducted through deals and patronage, are not something SG should be teaching the future political leaders of America.

“I’m going to be pretty afraid of what Florida politics are going to look like 15 years from now,” Ossip said.

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Student Body President-elect Ashton Charles, who represents the Unite Party, said she is focusing primarily on what good things SG and the Unite Party are going to do in the next year.

“That’s getting out there and getting things done and being proactive,” she said.

Charles said she does not think there is any problem with the administration reviewing SG and campaign processes.

“I don’t ever think that it’s a bad thing to look into improving something,” she said.

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