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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Opinions generic
Opinions generic

As you cast your ballot this week, remember this: Your vote determines who is spending your money.

You give Student Government about $19 per credit hour, amassing a $23 million yearly budget that is controlled by your student senators. 

Meanwhile, your student organizations are struggling to make ends meet in an inequitable funding system, and you lack access to resources characteristic of a Top 5 university: accessible on-campus parking, a 24-hour gym and a permanently-funded 24-hour library. 

Beyond these budgetary failures, Student Government has been tainted by controversy as the Gator Party-affiliated student body president chose to approve a divisive new UF president with a history of bigotry.

In the midst of these shortcomings, one party has been working diligently to hear you, represent you and establish measures for transparency and accountability in Student Government. 

Change Party has been in the Senate and around campus working toward a better UF for six semesters, and our impact has multiplied since securing one-third of Senate membership in the Fall election.

Over the last semester, our senators have worked with the University Police Department, UF housing and dorm area governments to improve nighttime and pedestrian safety on campus. 

We made advancements in the way that students interact with their representatives, establishing forums like town halls to fortify a line of communication between the student body and its Student Government. 

Our senators accomplished so much over the last semester — and we’re just getting started. 

This Spring, Change Party is more determined than ever to create a campus where all Gators are truly respected, represented and provided with the resources they need to succeed in a changing university environment. 

The first step in doing this is to revisit that $21 million budget, identify where money is being wasted and put those funds toward initiatives and services that actually matter to students. 

Change senators have historically proposed and will continue to advocate for using some of the money allocated to Accent Speakers Bureau and Student Government Productions to compensate for key initiatives. 

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The $60,000 wasted to bring a TikTok star  — with allegations of predatory behavior, no less — to campus could have been put toward a permanent 24-hour library or used to hire another mental health counselor for the UF Counseling and Wellness Center. 

Additionally, thousands of your dollars could be saved if Student Government elections were moved online. By finding innovative ways to eliminate wasteful spending, Student Government would be able to provide the services that students need.

Over the next year, Change Party will explore every avenue to give students the resources that they want, need and deserve at a Top 5 university. 

We will ensure a safer and healthier UF by implementing vending machines for reduced-cost reproductive health resources, providing meal vouchers for student workers to fight food insecurity and further improving lighting on campus. 

We will stand firmly against the encroachment of off-campus politics on our education while protecting and expanding initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion. 

We will further initiatives to build a greener campus by moving the Reitz Union toward solar power and advocating for sustainable development of graduate housing. 

We will enhance the student experience by extending hours at Southwest Recreation Center, providing more opportunities for students to park on campus and ensuring that student organizations are properly funded. 

We will fight for transparency and ensure that student voices are heard when decisions are made with that $23 million budget. 

These changes aren’t only necessary, but they are achievable; a better UF is possible. When you go to the polls Feb. 28 and March 1, vote for the party of action. 

Vote for the party that will truly represent you. 

Vote for Change.

Written by Natalie McNamara on behalf of Change Party.

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