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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Students discuss funding issues, new Gator Coalition established at first SG Senate meeting of semester

<p dir="ltr">Nik Bindi, CLAS Senator and Deputy Minority Party Leader, speaks Tuesday night at the first Student Government meeting of Fall semester about upcoming fall legislation on SG reapportionment to better reflect the populations of voting districts. About 100 people attended the meeting.</p>

Nik Bindi, CLAS Senator and Deputy Minority Party Leader, speaks Tuesday night at the first Student Government meeting of Fall semester about upcoming fall legislation on SG reapportionment to better reflect the populations of voting districts. About 100 people attended the meeting.

After student organization leaders pleaded with Impact and Inspire senators for funding, they learned they were also speaking to a third party.

At the first SG Senate meeting of the Fall semester, former Impact Party member Wynton White announced the establishment of a bipartisan Gator Coalition. This announcement came after an hour of public comment in which students expressed concerns about funding issues following the Young Americans for Freedom lawsuit settlement.  

White, the party spokesperson, said the Gator Coalition aims to unite members from both Impact Party and Inspire Party to work together “for achieving a better Gator Nation.”

During his speech, White said SG has issues with diversity and using minority students as tokens. He explained how he disaffiliated from Impact to create a new party called the Elevate Party, but it didn’t come to fruition. He said Inspire Party members “registered the Elevate Party to force me into affiliating with them.” 

“The Gator Coalition’s mission is to bring together student leaders, resources and visionaries under one unified name to work to improve the lives of every Gator,” White said. 

Emily Dunson, the former Senate Pro Tempore for Impact, sent a Letter to the Editor to The Alligator announcing a “Gator Party” at 7:24 p.m., six minutes before the Senate meeting started. In the letter, she referred to herself as the party president, Richard Doan as the party treasurer and White as the spokesperson.

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

The Alligator reached out to White via Facebook message and email, as well as Dunson via phone and email, but they did not respond to comment by the time of publication.

Inspire Party President Zachary Amrose said the coalition is Impact Party in disguise. 

“The parties I’m sure we will find will share the same people, priorities and values,” Amrose said. “They follow a pattern of system party rebranding from time to time as they harm students by denying funding to student organizations.” 

Impact has been under fire by several student leaders since Summer. Three party members, including White, disaffiliated. 

During the meeting, student organizations criticized the “lack of transparency” in light of reallocation of funds following the lawsuit. A new funding system was created, which affected the organizations’ ability to host events and welcome assemblies.

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Sebastian Georgiev, the president of the University Film Society, spoke on the issue during public comment.

“We were kind of fooled by the outdated website about the money,” Georgiev said. “By the time we got to figuring out how student government worked with the funds, it was too late. There was basically nothing they could do.” 

Georgiev said he wondered if his film society made a mistake by joining as an SG organization. 

While members of both Inspire and Impact expressed their concern for lack of funding in these groups, the solution remains unclear. 

Student Body Treasurer Santiago Gutierrez offered his condolences to the organizations that have lost funding for events. 

“These changes were brought to us by external forces,” Gutierrez said. “They’re hard. They’re terribly hard. I’ve heard organizations come to my office throughout this past week crying that they don’t have any funding.” 

Gutierrez said he is stunned at how this situation seems to have only perpetuated partisanship between the two parties.   

“I’m still hurt that these changes are making us be divisive with each other,” Gutierrez said.

Correction: The headline and article were updated to reflect that White announced the Gator Coalition and to correct a quote from him. More details from White’s speech were also added. The Alligator previously reported differently.

Contact Emma McAvoy at emcavoy@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaMcAvoy1.

Nik Bindi, CLAS Senator and Deputy Minority Party Leader, speaks Tuesday night at the first Student Government meeting of Fall semester about upcoming fall legislation on SG reapportionment to better reflect the populations of voting districts. About 100 people attended the meeting.

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