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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Opportunities to make a real difference this year

The UF campus is teeming with opportunities. 

However, it can sometimes be a challenge to sort through them and find ones that will help you learn practical skills, improve your community, and become a better leader.

I want to highlight a few resources and opportunities that have made my time at UF so rewarding. These opportunities are not just for those studying political science or related fields. Students of all backgrounds and academic pursuits ought to consider them.

Run for Student Government Senate

On Aug. 29, Aug. 30 and Sept. 3, students will have the opportunity to register with a campus political party (or as an independent) to run for Student Government (SG) Senate for the upcoming SG elections on Sept. 24 and 25.

As I mentioned last week, the Senate controls a $22 million budget of student fees that is used to fund student organizations, resources like free printing and our campus fitness centers. The Senate is composed of 100 senators — 50 are elected in the fall based on housing area and 50 are elected in the spring based on academic classification. Senate meets on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Reitz Union Chamber.

To register to run, all you have to do is show up to the Reitz Union third floor (rooms 3305, 3310, 3315 and 3320) on Aug. 29 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Aug. 30 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; or Sept. 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with your Gator 1 card to fill out some paperwork.

Traditionally, those looking to run with a party will dress professionally and participate in a short interview. Afterward, you will be notified by the party if you were selected. 

Volunteer on a Local Campaign

On March 17, 2020, Gainesville voters will elect three new city commissioners.

I’ve heard some students say they don’t think UF students should get involved in Gainesville elections because we aren’t “real” residents. I strongly disagree. 

From public transportation to public utilities, students interact daily with city government and should have a say in how their taxpayer dollars are used. 

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Every election season, local commission candidates look for passionate, energetic volunteers who will knock on doors, phone bank, conduct research and perform other tasks that are critical to any political campaign. 

To get involved, reach out to local candidates via email or social media to see how you can help them. You can find out who is running by visiting the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections office website at votealachua.com.

Check out the Bob Graham Center

UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to become more civically engaged. Housed in Pugh Hall, the center offers internships with local and state government, research projects, and staff that will help you grow as a leader through involvement and education. 

The center also maintains an email newsletter, which I highly recommend, that regularly provides useful information including jobs, scholarships, and event announcements.

The Graham Center is full of great people who are genuinely interested in helping to develop the next generation of civic leaders. Regardless of what you’re studying, you can benefit from their resources.

Ben Lima is a UF political science senior.

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