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Friday, March 01, 2024

President Susan Webster has brought back business as usual to Student Government. Like many of you, I was quite alarmed at hearing online voting was dismantled by Webster and her UF Supreme Court. Sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

Online voting means more students can more easily exercise their right to vote. That means more student voices are heard.

The timing and blatant lack of transparency reveal the shameless way in which they went about eliminating online voting. After about 30 student volunteers gathered approximately 3,200 signatures to get the amendment on the ballot, candidate Webster came out for online voting in the SG debate as the pressure mounted for its passage. The amendment went on to pass with more than 68 percent of the vote.

President Webster now sings a different tune than candidate Webster.

Candidate Webster didn’t want to risk fighting the popular support for online voting, so President Webster chose to use the cover of Summer break, when few students were in town, to silence the voice of the Student Body on the issue.

More troubling than Webster’s quick about-face once she was elected was her blatant manipulation of the makeup of the judicial branch. She led her Impact Party Senate caucus against the nominees of the previous Student Body president: the first Native American and the first openly gay veteran to be nominated to the UF Supreme Court. At the time it was said that they “weren’t diverse enough.” She appointed five of the seven total justices herself, manipulating the legislative branch to go along with her court packing plan and having them fail the two extremely qualified nominees — only to then approve her five by unanimous consent.

And after the Court’s clearly influenced an erroneous decision, she had her Senate president eliminate the online voting implementation committee in Senate, days before the official UF Supreme Court opinion was even released. But I know the Student Body will not turn a blind eye to this blatant disregard for their voices and their votes.

It seems the ruling class in SG is back to its old tricks — ignoring the voice of the Student Body and running from the nearest sight of sunshine.

Preston Jones is a UF political science junior.

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