Two Senate candidates decided to run for UF Senate seats without any party affiliation, despite the unusually high number of party options in this Student Government election.
Four parties are running for Student Government election, including the current majority party, Gator, as well as three new parties: Change, Progressive and Union.
Voting for 50 Senate seats begins ends Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. at six polling locations across campus:
Reitz Student Union - Computer Lab
Southwest Recreation Center - social lounge
Broward Hall - recreation room (basement)
Murphree Area - office conference room
Keys Area - office conference room
Cypress - meeting room
Election results will be announced after polls close at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Zachery Utt, Murphree Area
After serving as the Engineering senator this Summer, Zachery Utt left the party system when his party, Inspire, suspended Sept. 15. He chose to run without a party after being unimpressed with the majority and new parties’ reputations and platforms.
“With these four different parties, the reduction of ideas into talking points for campaign strategies, I'm not super convinced this is going to translate into action,” he said.
Now, the 19-year-old UF computer science sophomore, is running as an independent in the Murphree Area. He said he ran his campaign without any donations or expenses to show his commitment to ideas.
He advertised his candidacy and platform through social media websites like Reddit, Instagram and Facebook, where he released his four-point platform, or set of goals. He also printed fliers and distributed them around Murphree.
“When you’re running a zero-dollar campaign, you don’t have access to the same resources,” he said.
Over the Summer, Utt co-authored a bill that would have given students 900 T-Mobile hotspot devices to supplement bad internet connections. The bill failed in Summer, but Utt hopes to try again after this election hopefully brings more senators who support him, he said.
Utt attempted to lobby for an online voting option for SG elections to supplement unsafe in-person voting, he said. The senator asked Provost Joseph Glover to implement an online voting plan. The provost declined Sept. 21 in an email.
Utt petitioned the UF Supreme Court Sept. 23 to order the Supervisor of Elections Hayley Price create a voting option for quarantined students who can’t make it to in-person voting or use absentee ballots.
Utt built his platform by talking with Murphree Area residents his community needed, he said. He promised converting unused employee parking spots near Murphree Hall to student decals.
Utt also wants updated fire alarms in Fletcher Hall and Sledd Hall and improved Wi-Fi in Murphree’s courtyard.
“Each of these platform points are not built around a campaign strategy,” he said. “It's built around an intellectual foundation that the students believe.”
Jamison McAdams, Lakeside Complex
Four days after Jamison McAdams moved into the Lakeside Complex, he knew UF needed to change, he said. The 18-year-old UF finance freshman’s roommate told him students who tested positive were quarantined in the building across from his dorm.
He believes UF Resident Assistants and housing officials should be transparent with students about quarantined students and positive cases.
McAdams’ father damaged his lungs in 2001 firefighting the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City, the freshman said. McAdams worries about infecting his high-risk father with COVID-19.
He said he will advocate for informing students about COVID-19.
“I see that as a problem with communication between authorities on campus and freshmen students,” he said. “Knowing that kind of information would allow me to make an informed decision on whether or not I should come to campus.”
Beyond increasing COVID-19 transparency, McAdams said he wants to improve UF’s Counseling and Wellness Center, where students can receive free-counseling.
Students in Lakeside Complex told McAdams they experienced long wait times for counselors. McAdams said he will advocate for expanding CWC funding and hiring more counselors.
“Student life in general is very stressful and then adds to the pandemic,” he said. “Keeping students safe, happy and healthy should be everyone's priority.”
Before UF, McAdams said he served on his Community School of Naples’ honor council reviewing student discipline cases and Harvard Model Congress.
When McAdams slated, most parties had not released their platforms and he didn’t feel informed enough to decide a party.
“I just wanted to make sure that I would still be able to uphold my views knowing I don't have all the information on the parties,” he said.
Lianna Hubbard is a reporter for The Alligator’s Investigative Team. The UF women’s study major began as a freelance reporter three years ago. She founded her community college’s award-winning newspaper before beginning at The Independent Florida Alligator. See an issue in your community or a story at UF? Send tips to her Twitter.