As we head to the polls tomorrow and Wednesday, I have to make it known to you: all is not as it seems with Gator Party.
During UF Student Government elections, there is relatively little substantive discourse on policy points, so I wanted to give a fair warning to the public about Gator Party’s snake oil campaign platform.
First, I wanted to talk about the platform point of wanting to "secure funding for a veterans success center on campus." Notice the sleight of hand that Gator Party does when using “a” instead of “the.” Some people would be surprised to know that we already have the Collegiate Veterans Success Center on campus. If Gator Party wants a new one (discussions on that are already happening with or without Gator Party), they could easily have tossed the word “new” in. I don’t quite understand why they put in vague wording that lends itself to confusion.
Gator Party also wants to "collaborate with the Career Connections Center to publish editable resume templates." The CCC already publishes resume samples on its website that are tailored to each college. To my knowledge, those samples are supposed to be visual aids because you really are supposed to just make your own resume. If you really wanted to edit them, all you would have to do is download them and open them up in Microsoft Word.
So, technically the CCC already does have editable resume templates on their website, which is why I’m not too excited about this platform point.
I’m not just cherry-picking here. Their entire platform is littered with half-baked initiatives that may or may not already be happening on campus. Green Dot Bystander Intervention training? That’s already happening. President Fuchs asked GatorWell to help come up with different ways to combat sexual assault back in 2018, which is why the program is already being rolled out. Gator Party is just trying to ride off of coattails here by virtue of “collaboration.” Having multicultural events at GatorNights? That happens all the time already.
The most earnest platform point, in my opinion, is perhaps the ramp from Marston Science Library breezeway to the Reitz Union north lawn. It is truly the most original yet still perhaps a little misguided. Why design and install a ramp when you can just get rid of the stairs? We should remove barriers to accessibility instead of accommodating ableist design.
But now, let’s talk briefly about the people who ideally would be carrying out the platform, as that is perhaps the greatest cause of concern.
As Gator Party’s candidates started to update their profile pictures on Facebook, I noticed that most of the captions seemed to be rather bland, vague and generic. Of the 27 I’ve read so far, only three people have used their Facebook to actually talk about different ways in which they would make the areas they would directly represent any better. This is important because if you don’t make any promises, your constituents can’t hold you accountable for failing to deliver.
I do also object to Gator Party candidate Tyler Kendrick describing homeless folks as plaguing District A. In my own life, I try not to use disease-related terms when talking about homeless people because I find it to be a little rude.
Similarly, I find it concerning that none of the Gator Party candidates who previously served in Senate talked about what they did as senators to make your life better. Only two candidates briefly acknowledged serving previously as a senator.
Why might this be the case? Well, if I had to guess, it would be because these people were completely unremarkable senators and didn’t actually accomplish much at all. Additionally, because some of the Gator Party folks running for reelection had a hand in causing the current SG budget crisis, there is a reason for those individuals to conveniently omit their past “service.”
Did they hold a nice-sounding leadership position? Yes. Did they actually make your life better? No. Some of them made your life worse.
It is hard to make change on our campus. I know that from personal experience. But just because it’s not easy to make UF a better place doesn’t mean you should vote for people who will hardly make the effort to try — especially with a platform perfectly suited for people who sit on their hands.
Zachariah Chou is the Inspire Party candidate for the Murphree Area Senate seat.