After almost two months of campaigning, the hard work paid off for the Unite Party once again.
Or maybe it was Ben Meyers’ lucky shorts.
The Unite Party won the majority of the Student Senate seats, claiming the executive ticket as well with Meyers leading the way as the UF’s next Student Body president.
The Unite Party won 39 of the 50 Student Senate seats up for election. The Progress Party won 11 Senate seats.
There was a tie between two Progress candidates for one of the 10 graduate student seats. The Student Senate will vote again for that seat during next week’s meeting.
“We are so pumped and ready to go from day one,” Meyers said after the results were announced.
Meyers and his running mate, Anthony Reynolds, won 68 percent of the votes. The Progress Party candidates for Student Body President, Dave Schneider, and vice president, Cassia Laham, won 32 percent of the votes.
TJ Villamil, the Unite Party candidate for Student Body treasurer, won over the Progress Party’s candidate, Amy Chaildin, by 2,977 votes.
According to Supervisor of Elections Amanda Griffin, 8,645 students voted during the two-day election.
Ninety percent of students who voted were opposed to the implementation of block tuition.
Last spring, 9,775 students voted in the SG executive election.
The Progress Party grabbed 11 Senate seats, including one of the two pharmacy seats, the law seat and nine of the 10 graduate student seats. In the fall election, only one Progress Party candidate, Jose Soto, won a seat.
Griffin announced the results of the elections early Thursday morning to a crowd dancing on the steps of the amphitheater, yelling at the top of their lungs “Unite” and “Solidarity forever.”
Meyers’ parents stood in the crowd, wrapped around each other for warmth from the February chill, to support their son.
“It’s great when parents are in it, but it’s 100 times better when your child is in it,” said Meyers’ father, Drew.
Reynolds is the first member of the Asian American Student Union to be elected as vice president.
“It meant so much to me to see how many of the [AASU] were out here,” Reynolds said.
He said he can’t wait to represent the AASU more and will spend the next few months working even closer with current vice president Marcus Dixon to prepare himself.
Villamil said the Senate will make sure the Board of Trustees hear what the students had to say about block tuition.
“I’m so proud to finally use that number against the Board of Trustees,” Villamil said
Schneider, in a speech to his party after the results were announced, said he was disappointed with his defeat but will continue his role as a student activist and member of the minority party.
“This is a tough thing,” he said. “We confront a Student Government machine that most cities don’t even encounter.”
Schneider said even after the loss he is already looking ahead to the next election.
“We’re going to get the whole system changed from the grassroots up,” he said.
Laham, the Progress Party candidate for vice president, said even the small number of seats her party won felt like a victory.
“Being the underdog feels great,” she said. “So many people feel disillusioned because they don’t feel like they’re being represented.”
Besides voting for their SG representatives, 90 percent of students who voted opposed the implementation of block tuition.
If implemented, full-time students would have to pay a flat-rate tuition for 15 credit hours no matter how many credits they are registered for.
Both parties promised to stand against the implementation of block tuition if elected.
Griffin said the results of the election and the block tuition referendum question were straightforward.
“It is pretty clear what the students want,” Griffin said.
Ashton Charles, the current Student Body president and a member of the Unite Party, said she is very proud of Meyers’ accomplishment.
“It’s truly an honor for the best possible candidate to succeed me,” she said.
Now that Meyers is 4-0 in student elections, the question is, what’s next for his lucky shorts?
“Now I can wash them,” he said.