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Monday, June 24, 2024

Student Government elections are here again, and the drama has come with it. So far, this election cycle has been defined by the emergence of a new minority party to go up against Impact Party — and memes. Don’t forget the memes.

This semester we’ve watched as Inspire Party formed to make this the most contested election since Fall 2015. However, we can’t help but wonder if this is just the endless pattern of SG repeating itself. Some of us here at the Alligator were around when Access Party, the last substantial minority party, rose to power in Fall 2015. We were new to UF and thought another party would bring some much-needed debate to the Student Senate floor and maybe even cooperation between students with different opinions. Instead we saw one meeting run to 2 a.m. because of endless back-and-forth and refusals to compromise.

A one-party system is not only horrible for democracy, but leads to distrust from the Student Body. (Yes, we’re talking about the memes again.) But the last two-party system we had only lead to mudslinging, bickering and a failure to create change.

That being said, we at the Alligator endorse the Inspire Party candidates in these elections. We hope the batch of new students will steer the party away from the bickering that led to Access Party’s downfall. Inspire’s insistence on making SG more transparent and accountable is definitely needed, and it actually wants to fight to implement online voting, a debate which should have been settled semesters ago.

As for the independent candidates, Trevison Clark for Murphree Area and Adrian O’Sullivan for Yulee Area, we will not be endorsing them. We feel like they have good ideas, but they are too similar to Inspire’s. It’s tough being the realist, but we don’t believe change in SG will happen with individuals. Independent senators have been trying — and failing — for years. However, both independents did participate in a public forum Monday night, and we commend them for that. If you live in either of the two areas, please go find O’Sullivan or Clark and at least hear them out.

We’re not trying to villainize every Impact senator. We have seen good things come out of this party, and we believe the majority of those in Impact have their heart in the right place. They have chosen platform points that can be achieved in the short term so students will see results instead of listening to the same ideological arguments over and over.

But we need to address both small changes and structural problems. Impact is more of the same. How has it changed as a party since its inception? By only addressing small issues on campus like Chick-fil-A breakfast or which library should be 24/7, none of SG’s faults are changed. There has been no direct effort from Impact to address online voting. There was virtual silence when the Student Body president, who is seen as the head of the party, was very publically arrested. They may have emerged from the ashes of two different parties, but they’ve morphed into a bland coalition with no desire for structural change.

What really sealed the deal with this endorsement was Impact’s refusal to participate in a public forum with Inspire Party and the two independent candidates Monday night. Yes, it was short notice, and yes, Hurricane Irma messed up everyone’s schedules. But we don’t believe that is a legitimate excuse for refusing to debate. The party had a duty to the Student Body to answer publicly to recent controversies, explain its platform and tell us why we should continue voting for its senators. Maybe Impact would have made valid points. Maybe it would have had better answers than Inspire. But now we won’t know.

You can probably tell that we at the Alligator are tired. We are tired of listening to the same petty arguments semester after semester. We are tired of the majority party failing to come up with a plan to implement online voting instead of listing all the ways it can’t be done.

We hope SG can do better. And it starts with you, the Student Body, going to the voting polls today and Wednesday. As we’ve pointed out before, our voter turnout is even lower than that of Afghanistan. Frankly, all of the debate and new political parties in the world won’t make a difference if the students don’t care. If you’re deciding whether to vote this week, just remember SG makes major decisions for UF and controls $20 million.

We’re not going to say Inspire will magically fix everything in Senate. But even through our cynicism, we can hope that two parties can work together to change SG for the better.

To the candidates, we hope you don’t prove us wrong.

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