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Saturday, October 23, 2021

SG banquet: Mac and cheese, prayer and cowboys

Well, I made it into the Student Government banquet this year, and it was a rather interesting event. For starters, they dropped around $20,000 on a banquet and ended up drinking out of disposable plastic cups. They are humble people, aren’t they?

I just wanted to talk about a couple of interesting things I had strong feelings about.

Let’s talk about inclusion. An hour into the banquet, The Alligator’s SG reporter pointed out that there was an empty table in the back. So was all the fuss about people not getting invited to the banquet because there wasn’t enough space just an April Fools’ thing? I just find it funny how Student Body President Ian Green went on and on about diversity and inclusion in his speech when at this banquet there were literally “seats at a table” kept empty. Oh, and a friendly reminder: The proportion of underrepresented minorities in UF’s admitted class dropped by 4 percent this year, so if anyone thinks we’ve solved racism or any of that foolishness, think again.

Next up is the food. I sampled a couple of the food items from the banquet. The fried chicken was decent but about the same as Publix’s. The brisket was fine in terms of texture but lacked flavor without sauce. The panko-breaded mac and cheese, however, was a disappointment. If there is a flavor level meant for people who think Jesus is white, then that’s what the mac and cheese tasted like. I’ve had instant ramen with more flavor than what I experienced that night. SG should have just spent $10,000 on Bite Squad instead. That way, the night would have really been something to remember.

Moving on to some of the more unsettling content, I was a little uncomfortable when I heard the outgoing Student Body treasurer say, “What happens in SG finance stays in SG finance” to raucous laughter. Is that really the best thing to say when there has been a recent lawsuit against our university over the way SG goes about its finances? It’s alright. What matters is that it was a good flex.

After Michael Murphy was ceremonially sworn in as Student Body president, we bowed our heads, had a group prayer (probably to atone for how naughty SG has been this week), and then he spoke. And boy, did heads turn when words started coming out.

Murphy talked about the University of Wyoming and what happened when it revealed its new slogan: “The world needs more cowboys.” He talked about the criticism of the motto, how people had said that the motto reeked of “erasure, racism, sexism, heterosexism and genocide.” He then talked about how “the Board of Trustees voted unanimously in July to keep the slogan,” how “students, alumni and sports fans apparently weren’t offended,” how the university was able to sell a lot of merch with the slogan and how enrollment increased.

Then, Murphy went into saying that UF needs to be more like the University of Wyoming and how he hopes to serve as a Student Body president guided by the students that “make the most sense” as opposed to the “students that make the most noise.”

Murphy spoke strangely, stumbling over his own words numerous times until he pivoted away from the cowboy story. I think that’s because he was reading words lifted from a Wall Street Journal editorial titled “It Pays to Be A Wyoming Cowboy.” While I’m not familiar enough with what constitutes plagiarism to accuse anyone of anything, I think you’ll feel a little uncomfortable if you watch the livestream of his speech, available on my Facebook profile (timestamp 1:11:00) and compare it to the words in the editorial. I’ll defer to The Alligator’s motto of “We inform, you decide” for this one.

One last note: If you all are going to spend $504 on security for what felt like the purpose of keeping me out of the banquet, just know that you all could have just paid me (in cash) not to attend, and I would have stayed home. Maybe, I would have even written something flattering about the outgoing administration for once.

Zachariah Chou is a UF political science junior and Murphree Area senator. His column appears on Fridays.

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