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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

For a year, Gator Party has held control over SG Senate with a supermajority of more than 60 senators out of 100 total seats. 

Change Party whittled down the supermajority by 12 seats last week.

Election night resulted in Gator Party securing 37 seats, plus the uncontested Family Housing seat where two voters wrote in “Gator Party,” and Change securing 12. In the Spring 2021 election, Change only won three out of the 50 available. 

Change campaigned on adding needed funds to the Counseling and Wellness center, renaming buildings named after “bigots” and extending the Title IX statute of limitations on sexual assault in the Student Handbook from one year to four.

Kenya Warner, Change Party treasurer, said her party’s new senators will be a force to be reckoned with. 

“Change senators are ready to step up and take the necessary strides that Gator has unfortunately been lacking in,” she wrote. 

Despite the parties’ differences, Warner said the two have mutual goals of improving the quality of life on campus.

Gator Party campaigned for adding Gator 1 cards to mobile wallets, adding links on ONE.UF for mental health assistance  and re-establishing parking ticket forgiveness. Noah Fineberg, the co-campaign manager of Gator Party, is excited to hear the ideas, initiatives and proposals new senators will introduce.

“I believe in building relationships with people, regardless of party affiliation,” he wrote. “We are all elected to serve the students and while we may have different approaches in regards to how to best achieve these goals, I know we will still get things done.”

Warner believes Change now has more power to disrupt some of the norms seen in Senate, such as Gator Party leaders’ recurring call to “previous question” when passing motions in order to impede objections and debate.

“I do feel there are going to be a lot of changes in Senate including debates,” Warner wrote. “Now that we have the ability to form a caucus, we’re able to have more influence on what goes on the floor and what policies are made rather than simply holding opposition.”

Due to Gator’s Party’s massive numbers within the Senate, it’s difficult for minority senators, such as Independent Senator Zachery Utt, to have much decision-making power. Additionally, if the Senate mostly consists of a single party in which almost everyone agrees on a certain bill, senators don’t make room for debate.

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Utt said he’s seen Gator invoke the motion hundreds of times throughout his tenure as a senator. The motion requires two-thirds of senators to approve it, which is something Gator Party easily has. 

All newly elected senators will be sworn in during Senate Tuesday, which will be Independent Senator Zachery Utt’s last day. Utt believes that despite Change’s low numbers, they can do plenty. Procedurally, however, 12 seats are the same as one in terms of the ability to pass legislation.

Bills, resolutions and motions are usually passed through a majority vote or unanimous consent when more than half of the Senate body decides to support a certain policy, according to the Senate Rules and Procedures

Other than a majority vote, it usually takes at least one-third of senators voting for something to get it done, Utt wrote. What the new Change senators can do, however, is set an example for how Senate should be run.

“They can identify corruption and push back against abuse,” Utt wrote. “They can make sure that voice of the student body is present in the room where decisions are being made — even if the leaders in charge choose not to listen.”

Contact Allessandra Follow her on Twitter @ainzinna.

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Allessandra Inzinna

Allessandra is a third-year journalism major with a minor in English. In the past, she has covered local musicians and the cannabis industry. She is now the Student Government reporter for The Alligator. Allessandra paints and plays guitar in her free time. 

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