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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
<p>Early voting for Student Government elections began Monday, Sept. 28 in the Reitz Union.</p>

Early voting for Student Government elections began Monday, Sept. 28 in the Reitz Union.

This Student Government election, students can choose between more club funding, defunding University Police Department, changing the name of Reitz Student Union, increasing student tickets for home football games and many more platform points.

The four SG parties released their platforms, or set of goals, for the upcoming UF Senate election. Students will vote for 50 UF Senate seats Tuesday and Wednesday. The current majority party, Gator, is running along with three new parties: Change, Progressive and Union.

Gator Party promises football tickets and sexual assault prevention

Gator Party, the current Senate majority party, released 12 platform pointsFriday on its social media.

Gator Party platform:

  • Give COVID-19 safety and school supplies through the Field and Fork Pantry, an on-campus food pantry for students and employees, and distribute drink-safe technology, which tests drinks for colorless and odorless date-rape drugs.

UF and SG distributed 1.5 million face masks to students and employees at the beginning of the semester. Students received them in Gator Care Kits.

  • Increase the number of home-game football tickets for students. Currently, UF gives students 2,000 of the 17,000 seats in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

  • Add outdoor outlets around Turlington Hall, Plaza of Americas and Reitz North Lawn, audit UF buildings for ADA compliance and environmental sustainability and increase Honorlock and ProctorU locations on campus so students can take proctored tests outside of their rooms. 

  • Include immigrant services in UF Student Legal Services, which provides students free legal advice and representation, and work with UF’s Center for Wellness Counseling to create a virtual counseling option for UF’s Center for Wellness Counseling, which provides students free mental health counseling.

The party did not respond to The Alligator’s questions about the cost, specifics or timeline of platform points like providing drink safe technology, increasing the number of student tickets or building audits in time for publication.

Gator has 47 candidates running for all Senate areas except Graduate and Family Housing and Lakeside Complex, according to the SG website.

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Change Party: reallocate UPD funding and rename the Reitz Union

Change Party released an eight-point platform on its Facebook focused on pillars of social justice, equity and representation.

Many of Change’s platform goals laid outside of SG control, such as UPD funding, Gainesville Regional Transit System bus routes and renaming UF buildings. To make these changes, party president Colin Solomon wants to lobby the UF administration and hold protests.

“We want to be the activist party,” Solomon said. 

Change Party platform:

  • Implement online voting for SG elections. UF Provost Joseph Glover and the UF Supreme Court rejected the online voting option in September.

  • Expand RTS bus routes around the Reitz Union. Solomon said he wants to work with RTS and the city of Gainesville to produce traffic studies, track how students use buses and improve routes.

    “We want to work with our city to ensure that every apartment complex has a reasonable service to campus,” Solomon said.

  • Lobby to expand the Student Handbook’s one-year statute of limitations on sexual assault to four years and to reallocate funds from UPD to UF’s Center for Wellness and Counseling.

  • Rename buildings with racist namesakes. Reitz Union was named after J. Wayne Reitz, is a former UF president and racial segregationist. The latest of many attempts by SG to change the name failed over the Summer.

“The names that are chosen should be diverse and representative of students on our campus,” he said.

Change Party has 45 candidates. The only Senate seats Change is not running for are Springs Residential, Graduate and Family Housing and Jennings Area, according to the SG website.

Progressive party: more SG rent relief and defund UPD

Progressive Party released an 11-point platformSept. 9 on its Facebook. Party president Alfredo Ortiz said he wanted to bring unseen issues or national debates to the campus level.

“Student Government is very much capable of doing way more than it is currently doing,” Ortiz said.

Progressive Party platform:

  • Create more SG rent relief and ban Gainesville landlords from the UF Housing Fair who do not supply struggling students their own rent relief, Ortiz said.

    “We will not sponsor you unless you can guarantee to us, the Student Government, that our students will be safe when they rent with you,” Ortiz said.

  • Defund UPD by bringing the department’s existing funds into the $22 million budget SG oversees.Unlike local police departments, campus police budgets are not decided by democratically-elected government, Ortiz said.

“We don’t elect our school administrators but they still decide how much our police receive,” he said. “As students who are protected by the campus police, we should have a say in holding that police accountable.”

Progressive Party has 12 candidates running for District A, District B, District D, District E and Springs Residential, according to the SG website.

Union party: divest from frivolous expenses, towards student organizations

Union Party released a 12-point platform from Sept. 18 to Oct. 2 focusing on student organization funding and SG spending.

Union is trying to be the party of student organizations, Union Outreach Director Jackson McMillan said. Union’s candidates are all officers or members of student organizations and clubs, he added.

Union Party platform:

  • Triple funding for student organizations from the SG-controlled student fees budget. Currently, about $1.6 million in student fees goes to the operations and travel of student organizations, according to the 2020-2021 budget.

    Union hopes to increase student organization funding to 18 percent of student fees, about $4 million.

  • Investigate student organizations that use hateful rhetoric like homophobia, sexism or racism and lobby UF Student Activities and Involvement to revoke hateful organizations’ status as a UF student organization

    “Do you advocate for hateful rhetoric or for hurting those of a certain cultures? No. Then you’re good,” McMillan said.

  • Divest UF funds from prison labor and fossil fuels, hire more CWC mental health counselors and eliminate the salaries of high-ranking SG officials but not SG student assistants.

“It's also about our rhetoric of cutting back on frivolous luxuries, in order to bring more money back to student organizations,” McMillan said.

Currently, $49,000 of student fees goes to SG officer salaries like Student Body President, Vice President and Treasurer. That’s about 0.2% of the SG student fees budget, according to the 2020-2021 budget.

Union Party has 11 candidates running in District A, District B, District C, District E, Broward-Rawlings Area, Murphree Area and Tolbert Area, according to the SG website.

Early voting for Student Government elections began Monday, Sept. 28 in the Reitz Union.

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Lianna Hubbard

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.

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