Poli sci students visit SG,  suggest improvements

District A Sen. Kylie Werk, a 19-year-old UF criminology sophomore, greets Murphree Sen. Austin Champoux, a 20-year-old UF marketing sophomore, prior to Tuesday’s Student Senate meeting.

Tacky sweaters and Santa costumes donned by UF student senators signaled the beginning of the holiday season, but seven students suited up to talk politics.

After weeks of silently observing senators in their natural habitat, students from UF’s Problems of Democracy class were inspired to sign up for public debate Tuesday night to deliver speeches highlighting concerns with UF Student Government, citing a lack of voter participation and student representation.

“Online voting is a simple way to increase participation,” suggested former student senator Rodolfo Pérez, a 29-year-old political science and international relations senior. “It would allow students to vote on their own time when they are not stressed out between classes.”

Lauren Smith, 19, advocated for incentives such as discounts to Study Edge and Starbucks for students who vote in SG elections to drive students to the polls.

“The UF Senate will have senators who the student population, as a whole, will have a better understanding of, increasing the level of trust and support between the student body and Senate,” the UF political science junior said.

David Ponoroff, 19, capped the students’ grievances with one final message to senators.

“Your positions are more than a privilege. They are a responsibility,” the UF political science sophomore said.

Some senators shifted in their seats in the midst of an unexpectedly uncomfortable atmosphere.

“I’m glad students were taking an interest in Senate by voicing their opinions,” said UF Student Senate President Joseph Michaels.

[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 12/10/2014]