Editor’s Note: The Alligator’s editorial board met with representatives from the Impact and Inspire parties on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. We discussed their party platforms and each candidate’s goals if they were to be elected. Our endorsement resulted from these meetings.
This UF Student Government election cycle has been riddled with controversy from both parties. SG elections are on Tuesday and Wednesday, and students will vote for the Student Body president, Student Body vice president, Student Body treasurer and Senate candidates.
We, the editorial board, met with each party’s executive candidates. Both Impact and Inspire’s platforms include addressing mental health, expanding resources for Asian American students and giving more to resources for sexual assault survivors.
However, neither party seemed to have an answer about how much their platform endeavors would cost the Student Body. This is a major concern for us at The Alligator, considering these line items would come directly from students’ pockets.
The editorial board has decided to, once again, endorse Inspire’s candidates, but we cannot enthusiastically support them. It’s a lesser of two evils, if you will.
Not to mention, our choice for Student Body president is between a human meme and a man with a dodgy Facebook past.
Inspire had the most concrete ideas concerning what it wanted to achieve if it were to be elected. For example, Inspire was able to convey to us a clearer plan in terms of budgeting the nearly $21 million given to SG and how they would help to reduce the stigma around sexual assault.
We say we reluctantly support Inspire because we have serious concerns about how this ticket will be able to handle SG’s highest positions given their little experience. Zachariah Chou, 21, the Inspire Student Body presidential candidate, has the most experience from the entire ticket having served on Senate. He meets with the administration, SG officials and students regularly. He also addresses students through memes in the Facebook group called “Swampy UF memes for top ten public teens.”
However, Gouthami Gadamsetty, 20, Inspire’s Student Body vice presidential candidate, has never been elected in SG although she’s had several failed Senate runs.
Mackintosh Joachim, the Inspire Student Body treasurer candidate, 19, is also a senator, but there are concerns regarding his age and overall qualifications. He said he would apply his experience from handling the UF chapter of NAACP’s $1,000 budget to spearheading a budget that’s about 20,000 times as much.
Despite the steep learning curve, we believe Inspire’s ability to address what needs to be changed in SG and its overall strong platform make it the better choice over Impact.
When comparing the two parties, we cannot ignore the glaringly homophobic and racially insensitive Facebook posts of Impact’s executive ticket, especially Michael Murphy, 21, its Student Body presidential candidate.
Half of The Alligator’s current editorial board identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, and we take these posts seriously. We believe these comments will hinder Impact’s working relationship with UF’s queer community. We appreciate that Murphy made an apology statement to the Student Body through The Alligator via text message to a reporter and in-person to the editorial board.
However, in our meeting with Murphy, he said party members have reached out to Pride Student Union. Only Santiago Gutierrez, 20, Impact’s Student Body treasurer candidate, has set up a meeting with PSU. If Murphy is so inclined to say that these homophobic posts no longer represent his values, why wouldn’t he personally meet with PSU?
In addition, Impact’s inability to tell us how much one of their biggest party platforms would cost, their dockless scooter initiative, leads us to believe the idea is underdeveloped. When referencing what the mental health kiosks would entail, Impact stated they would be similar to other universities’ kiosks. However, Impact cited the wrong school when referencing the kiosks, stating Florida State University uses them; instead, it is Framingham State University that has implemented them, a different FSU.
We have our reservations in handing out our endorsement, however, we believe Inspire is the Student Body’s best option. We hope that if Inspire is elected they work to surpass our expectations.