Not My System
Facebook groups like Stop UF Impact Party and Not My System have taken social media by storm this week. A new spring semester means a new UF Student Government election is taking place. This time, the non-Greek-dominated Access Party is seeking a second year in charge of the Executive Branch as their opponents in the Greek-dominated Impact Party seek to hold their Senate majority and regain their long-standing stranglehold on the Executive.
A new article in Cosmo Magazine is yet another sign that #NotMySystem is gaining more attention than other past efforts to highlight a decades-old non-secret corruption ring at my alma mater. Such efforts included leaking taped conversations (suggesting starving sororities that don’t vote or wrongly accusing the opposition of seeking to end Greek “way of life”), damning emails (Green Means Go, Sketchy But Do It), thesis papers, the creation of the Florida Orange Lock (a satire of Florida Blue Key), and of course my little-noticed mostly fiction series.
There really is nothing quite like #ufsg. Where else but at Florida’s oldest university, in a state once dominated by said university’s graduates, could a secret society of its student leaders focus their efforts on turning out the vote of the most easily motivated in an election few else cared about, in order to maintain their control over an institution that provided money and resume lines and character-building exercises that would help them network into a old boys’ club that used to matter to the state. Never mind the other fascinating facts – the political parties, the consistent cleavages of support and opposition, the well-documented “System” of control that connects the secret society to the fraternity and sororities. The simple fact that a student body of 50,000, as many as a quarter of whom are leaving every year, could perpetuate a non-secret secret society in the 21st century whose role is all but anachronistic in modern Florida, makes it quite a sociology experiment into the knock-on effects of political apathy, disengagement, and disenfranchisement.
Insomuch as UF’s reputation impacts the value of my degree, I have an almost academic interest in watching history repeat itself in my hometown. But I’m afraid that the school is too big, and the SG budget is too lucrative to the small number of people who care about it, for real and lasting change to occur. Then again, who knows, I have been wrong before.
Update: The first draft of this post was written before the UF SG election results were announced. The Access Party has since lost the Exec and suffered a setback in the Student Senate, winning just 11 of 50 seats, with most of those going to grad students. The non-Greek party nearly always wins the Engineering college (3rd and 4th year undergrads) and should be expected to win the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences if they are competitive campus-wide, but neither happened. On the plus side, Ford Dwyer – who helped Michael Christ execute the winning strategy last year – won the Law seat. And the best news for those looking to break down barriers to exercising one’s right to vote, the SG amendment to require “online remote voting,” which means being able to vote using any web-enabled device, has passed with 69%.
Update #2: And now the UK’s The Independent newspaper has made this story an international one. And to think, it’s not even an Independent (aka GDI) story. #NotMySystem is right.