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Monday, March 27, 2023

Before I came to college, I pictured a place where the best ideas rose to the top, a place where students were progressive in their thoughts and actions and a place where, if you worked hard enough, you could be a leader. I didn’t find these things in UF’s Student Government. In fact, I found the exact opposite.

For decades, forces that represent the interests of a select few have had a stranglehold on power at this university.

They have promoted people they know instead of people who could do a better job. They have stifled debate about important issues out of fear of losing their positions. Perhaps most frighteningly, they have coerced thousands of students into voting for them through an elaborate system of rewards and punishments.

The party in power controls every aspect of SG on this campus, from Senate to the executive branch, from the election commission to agencies like Accent and Student Government Productions. At times, it seems like the party in power is following the playbook of an authoritarian regime from another country. They are most certainly not finding their tactics in a textbook about democracy.

I believe the most qualified candidates should be chosen, and I believe every qualified candidate should have a fair shot at winning an election, regardless of what organizations he or she is a member of. I believe students should be allowed to express their opinions without fear of consequences or retaliation, because I believe in the power of our First Amendment rights as Americans.

I believe all students should be able to vote for the people they want representing them without being coerced into voting a certain way. Do you value democracy? Do you value freedom of speech? Do you value the rights of all students to be fairly represented in SG? If you do, then understand that the vote you cast is a vote in support or opposition of those ideals.

To me, SG elections present a very clear right and wrong. To me, it is clearly right to stand up for meritocracy, freedom of speech and free elections. To me, there is only one party you can count on to stand up for these rights: the Students Party.

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