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Friday, March 31, 2023

Editor’s Note: The Alligator’s Editorial Board reached out to Pope about Chou’s letter. Pope referred to SG Finance Code 808.12, which prohibits money allocated to SG funded organizations to be used “in support of or against a political party at any level.”

“Because YAF is a conservative organization, who was requesting to bring a political speaker, our committee denied funding because it would violate SG Finance Codes,” Pope wrote. “I did not have a hand or say in the funding model that has caused the organization funding crisis. However my job as the next Student Body President is to fix the current model to ensure that student organizations get the funding they deserve.”

I’m starting to lose my trust in presidential candidates with a great smile.

Smith Meyers looked like he went to the dentist’s office on the daily right before he got arrested in Key West while being so drunk he thought he was in Clearwater.

Michael Murphy’s smile looked like it could give you a warm cup of hot cocoa right before he essentially wired $50,000 in student fees to the Trump campaign.

Trevor Pope’s smile looked like a set of pearls recently extracted from free-range, vegan-fed deep-sea oysters as he flatly denied having any ties to the recent federal lawsuit against UF, or to be more specific, the UF Board of Trustees, as they represent Student Affairs and, by extension, Student Government. “It’s a completely false scenario,” Pope said during the SG debate.

Is it now? Pope himself softened up his own stance on his culpability, later saying that his link to the lawsuit was “a stretch at best.” I think, deep down, Pope knows that he is at fault, whether he wants to admit it or not.

Pope is unequivocally the individual most to blame for the recent high profile lawsuit against UF that resulted in the new, sloppily conceived SG finance model that has resulted in countless student organizations losing funding.

Let’s take a look at the facts: According to the text of the lawsuit, a student group by the name of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) wanted $6,225 to bring in two guest speakers. Their request was denied by the Senate Allocations Committee because of a “recently added policy that prohibits non-budgeted student organizations from paying honoraria.”

Now, who was the chair of the SG committee that denied YAF the funding? Trevor Pope. Who was the primary author of the bill that directly resulted in us getting sued? None other than Trevor Pope.

The bill Pope wrote has everything to do with the lawsuit, as explained by a blog post conveniently titled “Why My Student Group Is Suing the University of Florida” by the YAF President at the time. The post cites Pope’s bill as “the last straw” before the lawsuit.

The rest is history. Impact Party changed its name to Gator Party in hopes to avoid student anger at the botched rollout of the new student organization finance system. Student organizations from all corners of campus faced budget cuts and hardship. Despite holding a majority of the Senate this past semester, Gator Party didn’t pass a single bill for financial reform.

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Would anyone like some insult to add to our injury? Pope’s committee had $13,776.97 in unused funds at the end of the year which means he really could have not written the bill and just given YAF the $6,225 they requested. None of this had to happen.

Of course, I understand it must be embarrassing to be a law student who got your own university sucked into a federal lawsuit, which must be why Pope refused to accept responsibility for his actions while on the debate stage, lying through his (beautiful) teeth.

Now tell me: does Trevor Pope deserve your vote?

Zachariah Chou is a political science senior and serves as the Murphree Area Senator.

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