On the night of the last Senate meeting of the semester, UF students announced a new Student Government party called the Progressive Party.
In the past semester, four Senate meetings were canceled, barely any legislation was passed, the Student Body president faced an impeachment inquiry and two new parties formed.
UF student Alfredo Ortiz said at the meeting that there is an intention to stat a third party in the Spring and named it as the Progressive Party after the meeting. The party can’t officially register until the active campaigning cycle begins, Ortiz said.
Progressive will join Inspire Party and Gator Party. No senators ran under Impact Party this semester, but the Student Body president, vice president and treasurer are affiliated with it.
Ortiz and Mark Merwitzer, another founding member, both ran as independent senators in September. They said their goals are to introduce a multi-partisan ideological debate in the Senate chamber versus a system debate between the two current Senate parties.
After seeing a semester of gridlock, the duo said they want to introduce tangible issues and bring in ideas from organizations who they believe haven’t been represented at UF such as the National Women’s Liberation chapter, the Alachua County Labor Coalition and the UF chapter of the NAACP.
“I dream of a multipartisan Senate,” Ortiz said. “It’s the idea that every community doesn’t have to depend on a political party. That’s the idea of what the ideal democracy should look like.”
Although Senate meetings throughout the semester caused public uproar, no tangible resolutions were passed. Here are the big issues that SG has to yet to address head-on:
Murphy’s impeachment inquiry
In the past month, two Senate meetings were canceled while eyes were on Student Body President Michael Murphy. SG garnered national attention after emails were released on Oct. 30 showing an exchange between him and the financial consultant for president Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. This led to students demanding his resignation at a Senate meeting one week later and Senators handing him a physical copy of a resolution for his impeachment a week after that.
Ortiz also created a Facebook event on Nov. 22 for students to sign a petition in support of Murphy’s removal from office.
Ortiz said the petition has 250 to 300 signatures as of Tuesday, and his goal is to get more than 500 by January so the 60-day recall process can begin. The process would consist of the Supreme Court, which was appointed by Murphy, voting whether to validate the petition. Senators can vote to validate the petition for Murphy’s removal, but a vote isn’t required for Murphy’s removal, Ortiz said.
In four months, Senate spent more time verifying the Fall SG election results than accomplishing timely tasks such as passing timely legislation or furthering the progress on funding student organizations.
After Inspire won the majority of Senate seats the Fall 2019 SG elections for the first time since its initiation, all of its seats were up for debate for two weeks in the Senate.
Student organizations' budgets decreased after SG reallocated its funding when Young Americans for Freedom filed a $66,000 lawsuit against UF over Summer.
Eliana Guerrero, the president of the Asian American Student Union, said she and the other leaders of the “Big Nine” organizations spoke withCooper Brown, the SG budget and appropriations chair, but found no solutions to solve the funding problem.
“I wish we could go back to the old system,”Guerrero said. “I think most people do. We can’t obviously fix everything within one year with the whole system being completely broken.”
Kevin Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Student Organization, speaks during the public comment part of the UF Student Government Senate meeting on Aug. 6. Nguyen began by stating things SG members all have in common. He said that they were all Gators, all served in the Senate and all could make a difference. “We all have the potential to do something great,” Nguyen said.