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Thursday, November 30, 2023

So there I was on Saturday afternoon, existing.

I stared at my phone and saw Impact Party has posted some sort of pre-platform, featuring three of their “newest initiatives.” Uh... “dockless scooter sharing?” Interesting, tell me more. I look at the comments section where I see the Impact folks tagging their friends and pretending they are spearheading the most exciting initiative since sliced bread, fire or the polio vaccine.

Flashback to May 2018: A friend hits me up on Facebook saying, “Hey have you seen the bird scooter thing? I want to bring these things to campus.” He’s been in contact with the scooter company. He puts me in contact with the scooter company, Bird.

On June 2, a Gainesville Sun headline blares “Dockless scooters could roll in soon.” On June 5, I gave an informational presentation to the Senate about Bird scooters. After about a month of emails, I forwarded all the information I had to Impact-affiliated Student Body President Ian Green since I’m a nice guy and like to include people on projects. Bird had talked to Transportation and Parking Services (TAPS). I talked to TAPS. My friend and I talked to the Office of Sustainability.

Flash forward to Sept. 27. It’s the Gainesville Sun again and this time, the headline is “City gears up for dockless scooter launch.” In the article, Assistant City Manager Dan Hoffman tells the Gainesville Sun it’s not a matter of if but when.

Flash forward to this past Tuesday when I emailed the city to see if this really was an Impact initiative. The folks from the city were kind enough to loop in the Office of Sustainability and TAPS, who all clarified who actually has been working on the legal language for months and no, they did not mention Impact. At this point, they are in the final stages of their work and from there, it’s on to the City Commission and so on.

So how is this now one of “Impact Party’s three newest initiatives?” I didn’t think ownership of other people’s work worked like that. It seems that Impact just wanted to be able to say “We are the party that brought electric scooters to campus” even though most, if not all, of the work has been done by other entities. The next thing you know, Impact might put “the next time Kent Fuchs smiles” on their platform and then try to take credit the next time our Gator dad graces the world with his pearly whites.

But I think that’s what Impact does. Remember the exciting news of increased Bright Futures funding? I’ve always been skeptical of Impact trying to lay claim to these sorts of things.

To investigate, I put in a public records request for all Student Government emails and documents mentioning Bright Futures and/or lobbying for expanded Bright Futures over the last five years. Now, I don’t want to make a claim as bold as to say Impact had little to nothing to do with all these Bright Futures improvements over the years. But, I'll let you decide for yourself.

Something of particular to note is on page 91 of the public records requests form, where “Summer Bright Futures” is listed as a “current effort/accomplishment.” For the record, I do not believe effort equates to accomplishment and I think that it’s a particularly problematic participation-medal-mindset that should not be rewarded.

A lack of culture, transparency and accountability in SG makes it easy for you to be treated like a fool, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You deserve better than “bread and circuses.” Vote for people who will give you a fair shake when it comes to Student Government.

Zachariah Chou is the UF Inspire Party Presidential candidate.
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