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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

It’s the first week of classes, but it seems like Student Body President Michael Murphy has already failed his first test.

He was already having issues with getting his executive appointments approved when news broke of the College of Liberal Arts and Science ceremony getting rained out in the stadium.

It was an early test of leadership for Murphy, but it seems like he forgot to show up to take it.

Remember last year’s CLAS ceremony when a multitude of people got shoved off stage? It took former Student Body President Ian Green three days to release a statement. That’s pretty slow, but I’m happy he eventually broke out his crayons to scribble something together for the people. I haven’t seen Murphy do the same, but I’m happy to send him some color pencils if that’s more of his speed.

I just don’t understand the cause for the radio silence. We all know Murphy walked the border of plagiarism during his now infamous “Wyoming cowboys” inaugural address (courtesy of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board). I wonder why he didn’t just copy Green’s statement and change up a few of the words. Perhaps he’s making good on his pledge not to listen to the “students that make the most noise.”

To quote Murphy: “As your next Student Body President, I will always stand up for students.” What happened, dude? Even if you’ve been doing stuff, you have to be transparent about it. People have to know you’re actually doing your job.

Then again, if Student Government was more transparent, perhaps people would be even more upset with them for failing to represent the students to UF’s administration.

Green’s statement said that he would co-chair a committee with the now-ousted VP of Student Affairs Dr. David Parrott to reevaluate how commencements are conducted. I thought that was a funny move given how a “commencement committee” already existed within the university.

If there was any sort of place for students to voice their grievances and suggestions regarding commencement, I believe it would have been either of these two committees. It’s quite a shame that I didn’t hear a peep from either over the past year. To my understanding, Student Government has a hand in the nomination process for many university committees, which is probably why the student representatives tend to be so underwhelming.

Well underwhelming or, in the case of the original commencement committee this past year, absent. It appears that the committee met only once in the 2018-2019 school year and only half of the four students appointed to the committee decided to show up. Amusingly, one of the students who didn't show up was the Senate President at the time. The other, two weeks later, shared an article about the revisions to the Fall 2019 ceremony with the caption "ARE YOU SERIOUS." You can’t be mad if you don’t show up.

I believe that this committee, whose number one responsibility is to “examine and review the present commencement procedures and make recommendations for future commencements,” would have been a good place to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we shouldn’t have had the CLAS ceremony in the stadium because we live in unofficial (but if you live here you know it’s official) Rainesville.

Full disclosure: The minutes for the meeting indicate that the discussion was over the Fall 2019 ceremony. While I believe that the students should have brought up potential issues with the spring graduation, it might have been rather late in the game to do so.

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Of course, there was that second commencement committee that Green co-chaired, which had all the time to make sure commencement didn’t turn out the way it did this year. I don’t know who ended up serving on that committee, how many times they met and what changes came about from the committee’s work, but I do know that this past commencement for CLAS was disappointing, and it’s probably at least partially their fault.

Great job, Student Government. Keep it up.

Zachariah Chou is a UF political science junior. His column appears on Thursdays.

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