On Tuesday and Wednesday, students will be voting for 50 senate seats in the Student Government elections. Students might remember the Students Party from the SG elections in the Spring, but they might have also noticed a new party label appearing on stickers and T-shirts across campus: the Swamp Party.
What is this new party, you might ask? Did the corruption and scandals of the Unite Party finally bring it to the brink of destruction?
No, don’t be fooled. The Swamp Party is the Unite Party.
But if the Unite Party won the elections in the Spring and still controls a majority of the Student Senate, why would it need to change its name?
A trip down memory lane might provide insights into this conundrum.
The Swamp Party is the same party whose supervisor of elections failed to take responsibility when voter turnout in District E increased by more than 700 percent due to a system error last Fall.
Not only did the supervisor blame students for this system error, but she did virtually nothing to remedy the votes that were obviously cast in the wrong district.
Due to the mishandling of the Fall election, articles of impeachment were brought against the supervisor. After the Senate, with a strong Unite Party majority, voted that the supervisor violated eight out of the 13 election codes, it decided that this was not enough cause to impeach the supervisor. Are you kidding?
The Swamp Party is the same party whose presidential candidate, Tj Villamil, produced a video falsely accusing the Alligator of racism and fabrication of events when it reported that the Unite Party Senate President pro tempore at the time, Jason Tiemeier, threw away copies of the paper before the election.
After Tiemeier resigned from his position (or was forced out by party leaders), he eventually confessed and apologized for his wrongdoing.
The Swamp Party is the same party that promoted Katie Waldman to a committee chair position after Tiemeier’s confession letter to the Alligator placed Waldman with Tiemeier at the scene when he threw away the newspapers.
Whether Waldman disposed of the newspapers or not is irrelevant. The fact is she knew Tiemeier was responsible and failed to come forward, even when her party’s leaders were accusing the Alligator of fabricating the story.
The Swamp Party is the same party that, at the beginning of the Summer semester, revised the SG election codes to limit student free speech during elections. The new codes limit explicit campaigning to one week prior to the election and extend the ability of Elections Commission to give violations to online communications that do not have “Registered Political Advertisement.”
This arbitrary requirement could penalize parties and candidates for online posts made on their behalf by individuals who are not members of the party and who are not running for office.
Of course, these recent events only scratch the surface of the Swamp/Unite Party’s corruption. In one story last year, a sorority member “described a social environment that catered to the Unite Party by coercing members to vote and pass out fliers for Unite to get privileges and that generally perpetuated a silent mandate to support the party or be subtly ostracized, even reprimanded.”
Don’t let the name change and the flashy new shirts fool you; the Swamp Party is the same party of corruption, favoritism, backroom deals, dirty politics and intimidation that has been at UF for a long time. Whether they call themselves Unite or Swamp, just remember that they will continue to behave this way until they are held to some level of accountability.
Justin Hayes is a second-year political communication graduate student at UF. You can contact him at email@example.com.