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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Student Government Senator Audrey Wikan claimed to have served within the Florida legislature as the “district secretary” under Representative Jennifer Sullivan.

When her nomination to the SG budget committee (a committee that controls over $21 million) was challenged, she relied on her experience as district secretary to substitute for her not having any experience with SG finance at all.

After her confirmation hearing, I sent off a public records request to the Florida House of Representatives. I also emailed the representative’s office asking for clarification. They called me back to say Wikan was a fine employee, but the person I talked to could not confirm her claims.

I also emailed her high school Future Business Leaders of America adviser to check if she has actually served as her school’s chapter treasurer as she claimed during her confirmation (though not on her resume).

What I found out may shock you (but let’s be honest, nothing probably shocks anybody given how dishonest people in SG are).

The position of “district secretary” appears to be one of the highest positions in a representative’s district. If you look up a Florida House of Representative member, the two positions directly under their names are that of the legislative assistant and that of the district secretary. So it’s most likely not exactly the position anyone would hire a high school student to fill.

Yet in high school, Audrey Wikan applied for the position of “district secretary” on April 23, 2018. I would say it’s safe to say she did not get the position because on Wikan's application, it plainly states she left her last job with the "intention of interning with the current district secretary," which is probably not something you would say if you were applying to be the district secretary.

The records I received from the house mostly classify Wikan as, or simply call her, an “OPS Clerk.”

Also, in the emails I received were records of the House of Representatives member, Jennifer Sullivan, pushing to get Wikan a higher hourly pay rate (from $8.25 to $10 dollars per hour). Must be nice.

Rep. Sullivan seemed to have gotten creative with the position title too, originally looking to hire Audrey as an "assistant legislative aide," though a handwritten revision scratches the title out on one document and replaces it with "OPS Clerk." Elsewhere, Sullivan says, "[Wikan] will be a District Legislative Assistant."

Anyhow, Wikan was terminated from her position of not being the district secretary on June 29, 2018, which makes for a solid two months of employment. How this really was supposed to substitute for having experience with SG finance is still beyond me, but whatever.

Oh, and that high school adviser of Wikan I emailed? She couldn't remember if Wikan actually held the position of treasurer (though she did have some nice things to say about her as an overall leader in the FBLA chapter). I’ll give Wikan the benefit of the doubt on that one, but I’ll take the time to remind you of a line sung by Little Red Riding Hood in "I Know Things Now" from the critically acclaimed musical and film “Into the Woods”: "Nice is different than good."

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So yeah, Wikan’s pants were totally on fire. My fellow minority party senators and I brought our concerns to the Senate since maybe you probably shouldn’t have a demonstrated liar on a committee that controls $21 million. Spoiler alert: the majority party defended the lie and Wikan doubled down on it producing a “recommendation letter” from Sullivan.

A dramatic, yet actually factual, retelling of the senate meeting awaits you, dear reader, next week. Brace your hearts, water your crops, hold your children, hide your significant other, lock your doors and file your taxes; the truth will come out.

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

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