If you read the Alligator or checked the Swampy UF memes for top ten public teens Facebook page on Wednesday, you probably heard that a “new” Student Government party was announced: Gator Party. But there’s really nothing new here. Gator Party is Impact Party—just with a different name.
There’s a long history of the elite System in Student Government changing names when things get messy for them. In 2009, another Gator Party became Unite Party. In 2012, Unite Party became Swamp Party. In 2015, Swamp Party became Impact Party. This week, Impact has become Gator Party.
It’s exceedingly clear that Gator Party is an attempt to deceive voters into thinking that there is something new and fresh about the majority party. Gator’s leader, Senate President Pro-Tempore Emily Dunson, ran and was elected with Impact three times. She never spoke out against Impact and was content with supporting their corrupt behavior and misguided votes.
Gator’s spokesperson, Wynton White, also ran with Impact Party and was affiliated with them until it became politically convenient to abandon his association with them. The Impact Party Majority Party Leader himself, Branden Pearson, has also revealed himself to be a diehard proponent of Gator Party, sharing their posts on Facebook and referring to their campaign as “our movement”.
Why does this matter? Well, it is blatant dishonesty. Students deserve to know who is running to represent them and allocate $22 million of student fees. Gator Party is nothing new and implying otherwise is lying to the voters. Additionally, it’s important to note that these officials who now lead Gator Party are the same ones who denied funding to countless student organizations over the past few weeks when they implemented a new finance system in Student Government. Dunson served on the 800 Codes Ad-Hoc Senate Committee that approved the changes that led to recent budget mismanagement and White served as vice chair of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
A quick glance at Gator’s Facebook page would make one think that they were actually looking at Impact’s page. The same people are commenting, sharing and liking the posts in the same robotic fashion. The leadership is the same, the supporters and the corruption is the same.
Gator Party is made up of the same group of people that voted against legislation to prevent sexual assault, voted to silence the voices of student at Senate meetings, illegally removed minority party senators and approved the appointments of vastly unqualified students to the executive branch.
You deserve honesty and authenticity from the Student Government parties running to represent you. This week made it crystal clear: you won’t get that from Gator Party.
Emily Hyden is a UF international studies junior.