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Sunday, April 21, 2024
Students attend the first day of voting for the UF Student Government election at the Reitz Union on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.
Students attend the first day of voting for the UF Student Government election at the Reitz Union on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.

UF students lined up by the dozen at polling stations around campus, ready to cast their votes for new Student Government leaders. Some voted to get their “I voted” sticker, while others waited in line to support a party they felt would support them. 

Students gathered Tuesday at polling locations across campus to cast their ballots for the Student Government executive ticket and 50 Student Senate seats.

Tuesday brought out 6,740 student votes, Supervisor of Elections Ethan Halle said. It’s about 1,000 votes fewer than the first day of Spring 2023 elections, which brought out 7,619 students.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s elections will decide the newest student body president, vice president and treasurer. The senators elected in the Spring represent students’ years and colleges, while those from the Fall represent students’ housing areas.

Students can vote at the Broward Recreation Room, the Health Science Center Library, Heavener Hall, the Corry Village commons, the Norman Hall Educational Library, the Reitz Union Computer Printing Lab, Southwest Recreation Center and the Keys Hall Recreation Room.

Dylan Parsons, an 18-year-old UF biology freshman, is voting for Change Party because he believes it has the power to make “instrumental changes,” he said.

“They're against the widespread corruption that exists,” he said. “We need to drain the swamp that Vision Party has promoted these past few years.”

Ijenna Ajuzie, a 19-year-old UF biology freshman, is also voting for Change because she said the party’s views align better with her own. She appreciates that Change pays attention to graduate students’ issues, she said.

“Even though I’m not a graduate, that's still very important because they're also an important part of our campus,” she said. “The issues that they want to fight for are ones that are close to my heart as well.”

Wenyi Zhou, a 28-year old UF zoology graduate student, said he is drawn to Change’s graduate platform, especially the sustainable rent relief program they are looking to establish.

“I would like to see more people benefit [from affordable housing prices], especially the graduate assistants, [who] work very hard,” he said.

Ilaycia Castillo, a 22-year-old UF psychology senior, said that even though she is graduating, she is voting for Change’s Simone Liang as student body president.

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“I would love to see a person of color be our president and just like to have representation,” Castillo said. “Also, Simone has come to a few of my club events, [and] I've literally never seen any other presidential or VP [candidate] come to the events. She's too nice, opens herself up and is just really welcoming to the community.”

Akela Smith, a 20-year-old Elementary Education senior, ran in the Spring of 2022 as an Education College senatorial candidate for Change. She is voting for Change during this election because they get stuff done and their beliefs align more closely with her own, she said.

“I prefer their policies, especially because of their support of DEI,” she said. “I’m not a huge fan of Vision because… a lot of their tactics, I don’t appreciate.”

Matthew Pizzarello, a 20-year-old UF accounting junior, is voting for Vision because many of his peers decided to vote that way.

“I felt like that was the way a lot of my friends were voting,” he said. “We kind of talked about it and thought that was the right choice.”

Manny Cuevas, an 18-year-old UF criminology freshman, is also voting for Vision. The party is heavily entwined with Greek life, which is important to him as a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, he said.

John Brinkman, Vision’s candidate for student body president, is a member of the same fraternity.

“I’m big in Greek life, and Vision’s also very partnered with Greek life,” Cuevas said.

Avery Hames, a 19-year-old UF biosystems engineering major, also a part of Greek life also voted for Vision because his chapter incentivized him to do so.

“I’m voting because I’ve been incentivized by my chapter Pike [Pi Kappa Alpha]... I don’t really think it’s too important.”

Bailey Bachus, a 19-year-old UF English sophomore, prepared to cast her vote in support of the Vision. She felt passionate about advising initiatives on the Vision’s platform. 

“The initiatives that I've heard them talking about in terms of advisors are really important to me,” Bachus said. 

Leina Owens, an 18-year-old UF biomedical engineering freshman, voted for a Vision candidate who is her friend. However, she voted for Change on the rest of the ballot because she likes its values more. 

“I really like their goal to…have more options for vegans in the dining halls, and I like their inclusive bathrooms,” Owens said. 

Sophia Ross, an 18-year-old UF microbiology and soil science freshman, voted for Vision because she’s part of Greek life and wants cheaper dues. Having to balance the cost of club volleyball and chapter dues, she wants to support Vision’s platform so she can afford both. 

“If they go up anymore, I won't have enough money to pay,” she said. “And I love being in the chapter that I'm in.”

Michael Goldberg, an 18-year-old UF biosystems engineering major, also voted for Vision because he plans to live in a dorm next semester. 

“Based on last time, I voted for them since they want to push towards better residence halls, which I really liked,” Goldberg said. 

Many students don’t research the parties’ platforms before voting, said Robin Anstett, a 19-year-old UF engineering sophomore.

“A lot of people don’t know that the budget that the student government controls is huge, it’s millions and millions of dollars,” Anstett said. “I think that, you know, being aware of that and who's in office and who’s making those decisions on that much money is really important.”

Having researched the platforms, Madison Naish, a 20-year-old UF aerospace engineering junior, said she’s drawn to Change’s promotion of inclusivity within the university.

“Even if you don’t think your party is going to win, or even if you’re not 100% sure what’s going on, it’s always good to do the additional research and look it up because it’s stuff that actually affects you and the university,” she said.

UF students can continue voting in elections Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Results are expected to be announced Wednesday night.

Kairi Lowery, Daniel Bednar, Bailey Diem, Delia Rose Sauer, Annie Wang and Alissa Gary contributed to this report.

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