blue lights

A map of blue lights across UF campus.

I heard on the grapevine that a certain someone said that installing additional blue lights on campus would be a tremendous waste of student fees, to the vast disapproval of the Student Body.

While there have been plenty of responses to the Alligator Letter to the Editor in question, I think the world needs to know a little more about how Student Government typically wastes its money.

Here are some of my favorite instances of SG’s fiscal waste over the last couple of years.

For the reopening of Newell Hall, SG spent $2,645 on commemorative coins plus an additional $1,972 on T-shirts. SG sure knows how to party with our money.

The year before that, we spent $12,410 on a single order of SG ponchos. The next year, we only spent $7,184 on them. Ponchos may be nice, but I don’t know if they have the same life-saving potential as blue lights do.

We also spent $6,600 on phone-charging stations. Where are these charging stations? I’m not totally sure. There used to be a couple in Newell, but it appears they were returned to SG. I believe this because I’ve read an email chain that detailed how a student got their phone stuck in one of the stations. It ends with an administrator saying “I would like to return these machines to SG because they have been an issue since we installed them.”

I do know that there is at least one charging station in the SG office, which is perhaps why phones running out of battery may be inconceivable to some Student Body presidents. I would like to propose that we put one of these stations out on Fraternity Row so everyone can use  GATORSAFE in the absence of blue lights.

Have you ever seen that strange metal structure under the Turlington stairs? That’s a longboard rack, but have you ever seen a longboard parked there? We spent $2,667.98 on two of them but I’m not even sure where the second one ended up (supposedly somewhere by the Reitz Union). I actually don’t mind this particular case of wasted money since I use the structure as my own personal covered bike rack when it rains — but to each their own.

This stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. One time, we spent $63.59 on ice. Was it a lot of ice? Probably, but this is the kind of stuff that never looks good from an optics standpoint without context (if it was for an ice sculpture then I say it was a fantastic deal).

Something that has always pissed me off is SG’s recurring $190 headshot session expenses for legislative and executive branch leaders. As the guy who runs the Gator Career Closet’s free headshot program, I can’t help but pull my hair out when I see that figure.

There’s also quite the story behind the $400 SG was going to shell out for a gong rental. Let’s just say I personally intervened in that case and helped prevent what would have been a tremendous waste of student fees.

At the end of the day, let’s be real. This is a matter of lives, not money, and $22,000 (or however much it will ultimately cost to install blue lights on Fraternity Row) is a tiny price to pay for safety. 

If it helps a single person, then it’s worth it.

Don’t let SG officials who would rather party with your money tell you otherwise.

Zachariah Chou is a UF political science senior and serves as the Murphree Area Senator.