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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Students looking to work in UF Student Government now have a new third party option to get involved with.

Former Impact Party Senator Wynton White announced the formation of a new entity called the Gator Coalition at the first Senate meeting of the semester Tuesday night

Six minutes before the meeting, former Impact pro-tempore and independent Senator Emily Dunson sent a Letter to the Editor to The Alligator announcing Gator Party in which she named herself president of the party, Richard Doan as the party treasurer and White as the spokesperson.  

“It is time to bring a sustainable vision to our campus that will outlast our time as student leaders,” Dunson wrote in the letter. “We are confident that our party will bring new light and energy to campus that has never been seen before.”   

Since these statements, a Gator Party Facebook page has been made and liked by more than 1,000 people, and they began to slate, or interview, for Senate seats with the party on Thursday on the third floor of the Reitz Student Union, with interviews continuing today and Tuesday. 

Gator Party aims to unite the student body through their varied interests and passions, the party’s representatives wrote in an email to The Alligator.

“Our goal is for our actions today to positively affect generations of Gators to come,” they wrote. “Our movement will strive to empower every student to reach their full potential, with students as catalysts for positive change that will shape the future.”  

The Alligator asked Gator Party how the new party came to be, why it is marketed as a party but was announced as a coalition during the meeting, what the party’s policy goals are and who is involved in the group. The representatives did not respond to email to answer specific questions. 

When asked the difference between a coalition and party,the representatives attached the SG Rules and Procedures, which doesn’t clearly explain the difference. 

Inspire Party is also slating, but Impact is not slating this Fall.  

At the Tuesday Senate meeting, White said he envisions “united student leaders from both sides of the aisle [Inspire and Impact Parties] in order to put members of the Student Body over those of the Student Government.” 

“As an independent Senator free from party politics I am ready to work alongside a Coalition of Senators regardless of party affiliation dedicated to the Gator Nation,” White said.  

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In his speech, White said SG has problems with diversity and that minority students are “used  as tokens” and aren’t given a sufficient platform to speak on their own issues. 

“Minority voices should be uplifted and empowered because they are the key to understanding the issues that matter to a large, underrepresented part of our student body,” White said.   

White originally disaffiliated from Impact to create a new party called the Elevate Party, he said. But he said he was deceived by Inspire when they registered the Elevate Party to force him into affiliating with them. He did not elaborate further in his speech and did not respond to emails or Facebook messages after the meeting.

White said he is ready to work alongside a Coalition of senators regardless of party affiliation for a better Gator Nation.   

Cody Paddack, an 18-year-old UF exploratory freshman, interviewed with Gator Party on Thursday. She recently joined a sorority and wants to become a senator to be more involved on campus and learn more about the political process at UF, she said.

“I do think it’s nice to be with other people who promote the same communities as I do and understand more of how that community works,” she said.

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