I’d like to begin by applauding recent efforts to secure permanent funding for eight counselors to be added to the Counseling & Wellness Center. This truly is a fantastic stride in acquiring necessary mental health resources for our Student Body. However, this stride was clouded by a terrible misjudgment by Student Body President Smith Meyers.
Tuesday night’s announcement of this news should have been delivered with the intent to invigorate all of the students who have worked, and who will continue to work, to provide our Student Body with necessary mental health care resources. It should have been utilized to celebrate the strides made for this cause and to inspire those who have dedicated their voices and time to continue to strive for further progress in UF’s provision of mental health resources.
Instead, the announcement was manipulated into a rather off-putting political move — a disappointing, gross self-aggrandizement that attempted to make partisan an issue that should not be politicized. In doing so, this minimized and discouraged the efforts of the countless other students who have been passionately fighting this battle.
According to an Alligator article published Wednesday, “Meyers praised Impact Party for their efforts in the funding, saying it was not a bipartisan effort.”
There are countless factual errors with this statement. An Inspire senator wrote a letter to the editor in an attempt to raise student attention to the need for acquisition of this funding. This senator aided in organizing the student attendance at the Oct. 17 Student Senate meeting Meyers claimed was instrumental in gaining the attention and cooperation of UF administration. Additionally, Inspire senators have been working alongside Impact Party members to co-author a resolution regarding this funding, across party lines, in what would be strictly defined as a bipartisan effort. There wasn’t bipartisan attendance at Meyers’ meetings with Ernesto Escoto, the CWC director, and Vice President for Student Affairs David Parrott because Meyers’ opposing party wasn’t invited to or even informed of these meetings.
However, aside from pointing out Meyers’ public statement was a blatant lie aimed to mislead the Student Body into thinking only some of its Student Government representatives are fighting for proper funding for student mental health care, there’s a greater point to be made here.
To Meyers: securing mental health funding for our students should not be treated as an opportunity to add a feather to your SG cap. This is about so much more than your — or any — party’s Spring campaign. You did the Student Body a gross injustice by attempting to make it into such, and you insulted the thousands of students who are affected by this issue in doing so.
Politicizing this issue and minimizing the efforts of senators and students who are not in your party is a discouraging, feeble attempt at bullying them out of making change by communicating to them that their efforts don’t matter. Further, refusing to work across the aisle, to share ideas and tactics for achieving common goals that benefit our Student Body, only limits the progress that can be made for these causes. You’re prioritizing your party’s SG political advancement over the well-being of students. Tell me, is that really worth it?
Do not dare to attempt to politicize this. Do not use your voice and platform for senseless political attacks when there are so many better ways for your words to be used. Instead, use your words to more fervently celebrate the brave voices that spoke at the Senate meeting on Oct. 17 and to encourage students to continue to work for positive change and to inform them of how best to do so.
You have a responsibility as our Student Body president to effectively lead and represent us. You are responsible for careful consideration of your words, your actions and the impact they have. You have the potential to do a lot of good with them. I hope, for the sake of our students, you will learn to use them more wisely.
Ashley Grabowski is a UF student.