Party affiliations got the best of student senators Tuesday night.
There was controversy while approving the agency heads for the new 2015-16 Student Government Executive Committee at UF’s Student Senate meeting.
About half of the agency nominations were approved unanimously while the rest sparked debate.
The debate ensued with the nominations of Kevin Gerson for Accent Speaker’s Bureau, Gabrielle Beecher for Action SG, Anthony Close for Chomp the Vote, Blake Murphy for External Affairs, Robert Finigan for Student Government Productions and Dillon Knox for SGP Comptroller.
Sen. Audrey Guerra, Access, said in the past Accent has denied key speakers during Women’s History Month.
She asked Gerson how he would bring diverse speakers, and Gerson said he will take a more direct approach.
“We’ve waited for (organizations) to approach us instead of the other way around,” Gerson said.
Sen. Michael Christ, Access, said the last 22 out of 25 Accent Chairs have been from the same organization — the fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, which Gerson is also in.
“History shows that this process is not fair to every student,” he said.
Gerson was not approved.
The debates got more heated as the night continued.
The next nominee was Beecher for Action SG chair. She is known for starting Humans of UF, a Facebook page that profiles students.
Sen. Kylie Werk, Swamp, questioned whether Beecher could be unbiased after her heavy involvement in Access Party campaigning.
“I have a hard time approving someone so heavily involved in a campaign,” she said.
Christ gave his support for Beecher.
“The Senate would be doing a disservice to the Student Body by not nominating her,” he said.
Beecher was not approved, and neither were the rest of the nominees.
Many of the senators argued nominees’ organization affiliation was taking precedence over qualifications.
“Everybody should have the same opportunity on this campus,” Christ said.
Sen. Janae Moodie, Swamp, said it was discriminatory to vote against nominees based on their affiliations.
“We are more than our organizations,” she said. “It is a shame to spite people.”
Christ shot back.
“That’s exactly what these votes have been about,” he said.
Aside from the constant debates, three resolutions and two student Senate bills were passed unanimously.
A full review of the Senate meeting can be found at sg.ufl.edu/GovernmentBranches/Legislative/Minutes.
[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 4/22/2015]
Ariana Figueroa is a university staff writer at the Alligator and a 19-year-old UF journalism junior. She likes Netflix, swimming, reading and hiking.