An Orange and Blue Revolution?
I tried to convince myself to not blog about UF or Student Government any longer. I’m six years plus in being removed from that campus, so my insights are losing their edge. Unless, of course, you believe that little has changed there.
But there have been a lot of developments down in Florida that are quite amazing when looked at from a distance (both figuratively and literally):
1) The Student Body Treasurer takes a sabbatical from his job to do an internship. He’s so scared for his elected position, he pounces on any talk of impeachment, but can’t stop the inevitable impeachment hearing.
2) During said impeachment hearing, the Senate literally votes to say the SG Constitution is not factually accurate, or something to that effect.
3) Reinforcing the absenteeism of the Treasurer, the SG President installs a voter registration drive director who is out of town and won’t be back until just before the registration deadline.
4) A hurricane disrupts the first week of school.
5) The UF administration tries to crack down on alcohol consumption and other staples of Greek life. The SG leadership bows to their demands, sparking an outrage by the opposition (and many Greeks).
6) During slating, a large number – possibly an all-time record – register to be a candidate. 775 students. The minority party even sees almost 100 applicants.
7) New details emerge about slating that suggest organizational presidents coerced their members to slate in order to boost their budgets. This coupled with the typical “get the pledges out to boost numbers” helps to explain the record-setting turnout, but is a scandal nonetheless.
8.) Several Gator Party members are arrested for underage drinking at The Swamp after a meeting.
9) For the first time in recent memory, if not in history, the Independents manage to fill a larger slate than the Greeks. O&B will run 46 candidates (everywhere but Family Housing), to the Gator Party’s 45. This outcome despite the fact that O&B was overwhelmed roughly 7:1 during slating interviews.
Taken together, it’s been an extraordinary couple of months, and a lot of the news points to a dysfunctional leadership in the Gator Party. I know that in my day some of the embarassments the Gator Party is facing would never been allowed to come to light, much less to have it happen in such rapid succession before the usually meaningless fall campaign.
Consider alcohol. This will likely be a big issue in the campaign, given the Administration’s actions and the scandal involving underage drinking. On this, the parties are divided (for a change). O&B lead the charge and a petition to oppose the Administration’s hard-line, neo-Prohibitionist stance on drinking by UF students. Gator Party sided with the Administration, against their own voter base’s self-interest. For the first time, the Greek party did not help the Greeks – the Independents instead fought for their side. And now, at best, the Gator Party will have to remove some candidates from their slate due to being arrested and charged with underage drinking – another reminder and embarassment on this issue.
That is why I cringed to hear that the O&B was turning away Greek applicants during slating. I know they meant well, and know the Greek houses would never let the candidates slate with the opposition for fear of losing their Keys and other legacy appointments. Yet, it sent a bad message. There is a fine line between “not being the Greek party” and “being the anti-Greek party”. Especially now, when it appears even “the Greek party” isn’t fully serving the needs of even its own voters, much less the broader student body.
The time and the election are ripe for an opportunity here. I think the Gator Party’s stumbles are uniquely large, and finally give a fall election what it needs – a big issue that provides a clear choice for the voters on things like accountability, service, and student freedom (provided they don’t violate any laws).
I would love to see this election in person. Because I get the sense it will be fascinating to watch. And it will be a great source for parody in the years to come.