Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Are They Listening?

Date: Sun, 4 Dec 2005 20:41:28 -0800 (PST)
From: "Christian Duque" Add to Address Book Add Mobile Alert
Subject: Howard Zinn: Funds Urgently Sought

To: President@sg.ufl.edu, vicepresident@sg.ufl.edu, Treasurer@sg.ufl.edu, accent@sg.ufl.edu, senprot@sg.ufl.edu, pedromor@ufl.edu, gatorgul@ufl.edu, Gawain@ufl.edu, suis@ufl.du, rlguerra@ufl.edu, LSBL143@ufl.edu, trungmt@ufl.edu

CC: grant.nikki@gmail.com, peterdg@ufl.edu, hoffmana@ufl.edu, tjardon@gmail.com, cubano84@ufl.edu, mmoritz@ufl.edu, dngin@ufl.edu, dennis.ngin@gmail.com, niraj85@ufl.edu, adamjonathan@gmail.com, adam83@ufl.edu, mindjob02@netscape.net, vidam@ufl.edu, eryan19@ufl.edu, acullin@ufl.edu, me@kenkerns.com, slickric@ufl.edu, ansellfez@hotmail.com, AIRIK19@msn.com, francesharrell@gmail.com, acjean@ufl.edu, cgrapski@mac.com, kathleen.m.phillips@sfcc.edu, coordinator@civicmediacenter.org, swamp_pundette@hotmail.com, greekonaleash@hotmail.com, dmfitz9@ufl.edu, letters@alligator.org, GDIatUF@gmail.com, chomsky@mit.edu

President Goldberg;
Distinguished Student Leaders;

A few days ago I was quite disappointed when my good friend Peter Gruskin informed me that the upcoming Howard Zinn presentation had received substantially less (pledged) support from Accent as he and the CMC coordinators had hoped for. I was disappointed to say the least at the fact that Accent had pledged a mere $2,500 of the required $16,000 needed to bring Mr. Zinn to the University of Florida campus and its reluctance to re-consider its position.

True student leaders are few and hard to come by, but I was fortunate enough to come to know and work with several of you throughout my senate term and others now almost a year after having graduated through various activist efforts. As a former elected official I know all too well how difficult it can be to support efforts that we may not fully agree with but that are truly beneficial to the student body. Howard Zinn will more than likely never be the keynote speaker at a GOP Convention but that should not mean his presence should be hampered by student leaders that happen to be of a conservative disposition either.

The CMC coordinators have made it clear: Howard Zinn would bring out thousands of attendants, he would reach students from all walks of life (with conservatives & liberals being only the tip of the iceberg). While ACCENT has already brought several important leaders to speak before the Gator Nation, it should continue on with this tradition insofar as to benefit the student body.

This is not a letter aimed at condemning anyone, pointing the finger, or blowing the whistle. I have written this letter as a fmr. student senator and a fmr. party chairman to ask Student Body President Joe Goldberg, the Senate, and ACCENT to please look into this matter and as always, keep the students at heart when making final decisions. My efforts to bring Howard Zinn to UF do not rest solely with this letter, but I truly believe that if this presentation will truly benefit the student body that you will not deprive them of the opportunity to look at life as we know from yet another point of view and evolve to an even fuller and more developed outlook.


Christian Duque
Fmr. Student Senator
Fmr. Chairman, VOICE Party

Saturday, November 19, 2005

UF SG: Revolutionary Politics 101

For starters let's make one thing perfectly clear, Student Government as we know it at UF is serious business. UF is one of the largest public universities in the nation, with over 50,000 students, and a student-funded budget surpassing $13 million w/ reserves. To those of us that have been a part of SG, are a part of SG, the direction this body takes is critical both to the standards to which we hold it as well as and entirely to the benefit of the common good, the University, the Student Body, & the Alumni Community.

Right now, I'm writing from a computer 335 miles away at the FIU North Campus, several months after my graduation, a few minutes after an eight-hour workday and even I can't even begin to describe the urgency at hand for the Opposition to select an Executive ticket for the coming Spring elections. We are facing an uphill battle after a modestly successfull fall showing. To our benefit we have three parties and a diverse independent community at the coalition's beckon call, however, procrastination will only lead to dissatisfaction, skepticism, and eventually an indifference that will manifest itself as it does every year in voter apathy. The leaders of the Opposition have a moral obligation to fulfill, they must select a leader NOW.

Thanksgiving is only days away, before we know it December 9th will roll around and then the semester is over. While the Coalition (I/P w/ Voice endorsement) had great successes in the fall, no one can deny the looming fears of a split in the ranks come spring. Both of the major parties of the coalition have retained their sites, we saw some distinctions between the groups in months prior with the online voting bill(s), and even today I for one can draw distinct lines in the sand between Impact & Progress. Nonetheless an agreement must be reached and the Coalition must agree to exist for at least two years allowing for at least one candidate from each major party to run as the coalition presidential candidate. Anything shy of a two year agreement, in my opinion, would be to cheat one party in order to treat another. The hardest decision must be the first, the presidential candidate must be selected & agreed upon first and the selection must stand. When spring arrives the Coalition must be defined, 1 Party Name for the long haul, a full Exec. ticket for the long haul (this would include selecting honorable people that once having given their word will be expected to campaign hard and run for the posts they have been nominated for -- NO MATTER WHAT --).

In regards to the decisions that need to be made, I don't personally think it would be appropriate for the two parties to decide upon a candidate by merely agreeing to help each other out and by flipping a coin. I think the major parties should dialogue and hopefully arrive at an agreement that benefits both of their constituencies, embracing the bulk of the Opposition movement. But even at this point, when Impact & Progress have settled and are ready to move forward, I would stress the importance of keeping the Independent community (outside of I/P) included in some capacity (i.e., Voice, Iron Fist, etc) so as to not rudely silence the minority from being heard. Voice especially, having placed its already damaged SG-cred on the line to endorse Impact against the election-favorites and later registering in Fall only to petition its supporters to trust in leaders Duque, Gruskin, Patel, Rossi, & others to support Impact/Progress despite the fact that neither of these parties ever TRULY courted Voice voters. The manner in which the united Impact & Progress parties treat their smaller allies, Voice, should serve to measure the way they will come to treat the student body once elected in the upset that will wreak havoc on the elements of the status quo and bring the Ignite/Innovate/Gator dynasty crashing down in 2006.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Does History [Really] Repeat Itself?

As a student of history I've formed the opinion that history does in fact repeat itself, but I've also found that it usually takes a few years or perhaps even a few generations. In the case of SG I see history repeating itself almost immediately from one election year to the next. What do I mean?

Picture It! Spring 2005: 1 Rightful Candidate Dennis Ngin & 1 Deserving Candidate Mackensie Moritz... the party splits in two and then splits again because the original coalition that held everyone together and represented basically a clearing house of Independent ideas ceases to exist and neither of the two new factions suffice for a portion of the old guard hardliners, so they dip. The end result is a divided Opposition, so divided in fact that the third party whose not even running a presidential candidate abstains from endorsing anyone for those races.

Now let's fast forward to reality (Fall 2005): Like Access, Gator has accomplished a great deal and I believe its more valid to compare Gator to Acccess than say Gator to Ignite for the simple reason that both Gator and Access both had sizeable columns of essentially independent-minded members, something that could not be said about parties like Ignite.

Access willingly admitted the Innovate bloc, much along the same lines as Gator admitted a steady stream of former foes (the Kassim/Boyles Wave, followed by the next group which I'll dub the Guerra Wave). What's my point, what are my predictions:

1. Gator's Fate - very much like the Roman Empire, good music on MTV, and Access....all good things come to an end. Currently John Boyles is senate president and the #1 [technical] heir to the Gator throne, but as I'd mentioned in months old posts and private emails of as much as a year ago, Mike Patrone is in the wings, he's got Pro-Temp (not that he'd even need that pretext to run for the top job) and he's the kind of guy that I really don't think would serve as Veep -- or second fiddle to anyone --. On the other hand, going from Pro-Temp to Treasurer is in fact a step up, but only if you're a circus midget with tiny feet to match so I doubt this alternative's chances. Then of course there's a third name in the Gator camp whom despite a very serious shot, stood down last year.....promises.....what do they all mean these days anyhow?

Something tells me that 2006 will not be the year of promises or considerations, just like 2005 wasn't. Party unity will fall by the wayside between three men that will not cater to future promises, three men that have built themselves up to the apex of their political and social careers and will be banking on everything they've done and everyone they know to get them that last big win meanwhile their street-smarts will steer them away from anyone or anything that tells them to put all of that on hold, let it collect dust for a year, and that then it'll be ok.

2. Impact: Not The Fallout Shelter - I figured I'd go with a nice Astronomy kinda vibe for this prediction. While Senators Kassim, Boyles, and Guerra have been able to prolong their senate careers by crossing over (I'm holding my tongue only cuz of the fact I actually care about these people) they should know more than anyone else that they will not be welcomed back by the Independent community should they fail in their quest to vy for the Gator Party nudge-to-run. Impact (I/P/V) will stay united so long as it remains the independent representative of the independent community (WIN OR LOSE) and however great the odds of winning may be for the Party's favor in running a still very popular Gator-reject, if they wish to keep cohesion amongst the hardline party supporters they will pass on the idea of running such a person.

Time also plays a key role. When Diane & John left, Impact was still a driving force and could have achieved a victory that would not have necessarily been classified as an upset. When Becca left, what most people would venture to opine is that she left because she just wanted to win and be a senator again. Had Becca stayed in Impact, she would have been the #1 most rightful and deserving presidential candidate and she would have garnered the same REAL greek loyalty that she did before leaving her party, because she is the kind of person that people like, she's a highly respected stateswoman, and her leaving of the Opposition stung (to me at least) much more than John's or Diane's. Final summary: Boyles, Candidate X, and Patrone will split Gator in three and the victor will emerge to take on Impact (I/P/V) in the runoff, but a Gator-reject will not receive the Impact bid, Impact is a real party with real goals and will not humiliate itself, its history, or its members even if they can increase their chances of winning. Remember what I always say, "YOU ONLY LOSE WHEN YOU....SELLOUT."

3). John Boyles will take at least 2 Greek houses (both sororities), may also take Kappa Sigma, so let's three sororities....LMAO j/k. Patrone would take the bulk of the houses for a series of reasons, and Candidate X would be the wildcard, because one would think he'd take all the houses in one fell swoop (this is the first time I use the term 'fell swoop,' did I spell it right? who cares) but if that were the case why would he have stood done in the past, maybe honor, say I think its honor cuz the guy is pretty damn decent when you think about it.

Well that's it for now. I haven't really been too into SG (waiting for Spring to campaign like a madman in the months prior to entering law school [ohhhh where will I end up going?!] It's been great and I should say these are all PREDICTIONS, think of me as an accurate Miss Cleo b/c I'm quite certain we'll see the Access split REPEATED this upcoming term...laugh, sigh, or cry...keep your eyes out for the pie in the sky. =o)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Voice, Slating, & SG

(A Confused Gator Party applicant)

Well the Voice Party registered for its third time consecutive election and stayed quiet. what a shocker! But not to worry, once I return from my LSAT prepping, I will once again bring the party out to represent the very best the fringes of UF's student body population has to offer.

I'm confident that the new Impact Party will work hard and hopefully will take a few seats...but as I've said on other blogsites, it would have been much more fitting to have had all three parties working together under a coalition flag, because as it stands now, only the Impact logo is being used and this simple twist of PR-strategizing, I believe, will hinder the success of the now 'united' front. In any event, it's not all sour grapes, I think that the average Voice supporter will vote his/her conscience...so I'm not seriously worried as to where our 9% will go.

Lastly, I chuckled (yes, it's true, I mean how often do I use this term to refer to amusement) at the quotes given by some of the 'prospective' Gator Party senate candidates. I mean sure, I'm older, I've been in SG, maybe I even have a leg up on life, but at 18, 19, 20 yrs old you practically an adult, you could be in Iraq killing civilians, or wearing a badge and framing up the kids of working class families... still I appreciate the candor, if not the complete obliviousness of the young, bright potential candidates of the FBK-backed Greek Machine Party.

These kids are openly stating they support Gator because their houses do, nothing new. But what takes the prize, is that some candidates (whom you know have been slated or wouldn't be quoted in the friggin paper) are saying they don't even know the difference between the two parties!!! How pathetic is it, that the ruling party boasts of over 200 interviews but has interested students that don't even grasp the tip of the iceberg, that can't distinguish between two party platforms? What kind of leaders is the Gator Party trying to get elected this Fall?


Monday, August 22, 2005

Unity: The Road To Success

With the Fall Semester fast approaching, there's a very real chance to counteract the gains made by the establishment party. Some forty+ seats (46 senate seats) will be up for grabs and once again campaigns will take over Turlington, Reitz, SW, and the various residence halls, so I feel it's 'make-or-break critical' that everyone, not just the party hierarchies, look into the idea of uniting: Impact, Progress, Voice, Iron Fist, Theatre Strike Force, and even some of parties from the pages of history that should seriously consider coming back out, i.e. Student Alliance & Marsh-inspired Keg.

Fall elections are generally lower intensity than Spring ones, however, this election has a real importance. If the opposition can win at least 15-20 of the forty plus seats up for grabs, it will seal our chances of organizing a serious exec. ticket for Spring and it will also give much needed support to independents already in office. There is no reason that if given 15-20 victories that we could not take control of the R&A Committee in Senate with representatives from Impact, Progress, & Voice respectively.

The time to work together is before us and only a United Opposition will defeat the Institutionalist Party.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Dan Fitzpatrick Speaks!!!

Iron Fist leader, Dan Fitzpatrick Speaks!

CD: Who are you (name, major, year, etc) and what is your opinion on the make-up,performance, and relationship between Student Government and the Student Body?

DF: I'm Dan Fitzpatrick, the face of the Iron Fist, a 4th year Psychology and Micriobiolgy major here at UF. Prior to my involvement with the Iron Fist, I was (and still am) involved with Student Alliance and was marginally involved with Access. Having been involved with several SG campaigns, I've come to realize that SG caters only to the interests of a select few. In the first place, SG does a poor job of letting students know who to voice their concerns to, and unless you're in with the right people, your opinions are seldom addressed anyways. Real change is needed, but since so few people outside the system know this, it's so hard to fix anything.

CD: What was the Iron Fist all about? While many "SG-insiders" viewed it as a joke, there seemed to have been an almost undeniable level of organization and commitment on behalf of your colleagues and supporters, how would you describe this in your own words?

DF: The Iron Fist had two intentions really. First, we wanted to let SG know that there are lots of people - the members of the Iron Fist, to name a few - who don't think that SG's aim is a bit off. Their promises don't really reflect what the student body wants and needs, or else SG sets the bar much too low. Secondly, we wanted to enlighten the UF student body to the problems of SG. Past parties I've been involved with have tried and have succeeded to plant the seeds of change, but the people of the Iron Fist figured that the best way to grab people's attention was through satire. Unfortunately, like you say, the satire was lost on many people who saw it merely as a joke. This project was more than six months in the making, and many people put in many man hours planning and brainstorming, not to mention the money I had to dish out to fund it all. We were indeed trying to get a point across - that SG needs change - and I think we got the message across enough people who actually listened and who were curious enough to talk to us in person. Overall, I think it was a success.

Read The Rest of This Great Interview @: http://www.MySG.tk

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gator, Impact, & Who?....

Today's Alligator editorial cartoon left me thinking. So there's three parties in senate, hmmm..., this kind of like last summer when we had Access, Innovate, and all the Fall 'Ignite' senators... but in my book they were either Pro-Access or Pro-Innovate, I don't recall the Fall Igniters having their own caucus meetings or bloc-voting during the summer of '04. It's interesting how the students are being sold the fascade of tri-party cooperation in chambers, when in all reality there is only one party calling the shots in there. As much as I like Adelle, it's hard for me to believe she's the Access leader when for most of last Spring's election season I'd see her sporting Gator Party t-shirts. I know she didn't stay with Gator for the entire ride, moving over to Impact later, but either way...she was Gator and then Impact (however NOT a neutral Access party senator as this tri-party setup implies).... When will SG'ers get with the program? Some of us from the Access days are starting to sound like old fogies talking about those days, but how much more will the yellow & blue get milked? I mean for crying out loud, last Fall's "Access" was a joke, perhaps even in greater magnitudes than the version of the party registered by Michael Shine in Spring '05. That false incarnation of Access (F'04) resulted in the creation of Voice nearly one year ago today. Voice was a protest that fell largely on deaf ears but did FORCE the machine party to acquiesce to certain demands.

I just find it very insulting that the students are being made to believe that there are in fact three distinct powerbases in senate. I guess I might have more insights if I actually went to meetings, but this is as close as I'll get to SG, because I'm a firm believer that everyone gets a turn to play leader and then they go back to being concerned students or proud alumni (in my present case). I really can't stand career SG politicians, but a select few do such a good job that in their case its a service to the student body for them to continue on. Go Diane!!! (I like John too, Jared's ok, but um....oh yeah...GO DIANE!!!!)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Diane! Diane! Diane!

Diane Kassim is not your average presidential hopeful and has quite a great deal to offer the student body of the University of Florida. Some people are out to crucify her going Gator, as opposed to Impact, but as I stated in my senate farewell speech, I too was disappointed but respect her decision as much as John Boyles' of abandoning the Opposition for greener pastures. I for one left Impact before it became Impact or Phoenix for largely the same reasons Diane did, we were skeptical of the upcoming elections, we had wined and dined with Dennis and expected the bold determination of the Sowell/Samuels/Argento/Harrell camp and found ourselves with the Ngin/Nin passive-let's-test-the-waters-first mindset. Up until mid December '04 we still couldn't confirm whether or not Dennis was actually going to run or bow-out in his prime like most of us believed Bryson would.

Diane Kassim is not a traitor or a sellout. During the Spring of '04 she represented District A (32601), the Sorority(Ignite/Innovate)-dominated district. Still, she seriously put her hopes of re-election and her SG future in jeopardy and was one of the strongest backers of Jamal Sowell. Even during the contentious of summer of 2004, when the last thing on anyone's mind was an Access/Innovate merger, Diane held out, largely stepped up to the plate coordinating legislative strategies, and kept the party ready for what I had hoped would have been the final showdown that never was, against Innovate (Fall 2004).

We can sit here and credit Progress for their valid efforts of lobbying the special Legislative Committee on Online Voting, but before crediting lobbyists it's proper to credit the founder(s) of the committee. Diane fought hard on senate floor and throughout campus via public opinion, created the aforementioned committee, and became a symbol of hope for those that aimed to see online voting come to fruition at UF. This may be a new cause or a rallying point for a party, but it's been a promise Diane Kassim was determined to make good on, first.

We can sit here and lambast Diane for switching to Gator, but doing so and omitting Pro Temp. Boyles means something else. I love Diane, I love John (all of us being Original Yellow & Blue), but as ever sure as I am that racism remains strong at UF, I am sure that sexism has its place as well. When I was out on the set campaigning for Access in '04, I had heard my fair share of degrading and backward comments from members of fraternities, from members of my own house, and from random people that you'd think were completely oblivious to the SG process. I am speaking from personal experiences and no one can deny me what I heard and saw.

I remember one member of the Greek community in particular, whose name I shall protect but whose mindset has forever since made me ashamed to have called him my friend. I remember getting across to him on how Jamal could in fact be a better president than Scott, I had made some progress with him on Jamal's political track record and he finally agreed that he would vote Access, but what he said at the end of our talk, in front of no less than a dozen others was chillingly too 'real world,' too 'this is the way some members of academia still think;' he put his hand over my left shoulder and told me while laughing "well it's between a kike and a nigger."

I'm The Radikal, I'm long graduated from UF (though may return for grad school), I speak my mind and share my experiences (though you won't find them candy-coated here b/c I could care two shits if you like my blog, opine on my blog, or put my blog on a link on your blog...blog, this word has become redundant), and while I can't say that I'd vote for Diane (in part b/c I still haven't been re-admitted back to UF), I will say that she's the finest candidate I've heard mentioned to date for the SB Presidency, with Jared and John getting honorable mention. A former Budget Committee Vice Chair, former Reitz Union Board of Managers committee chair, former Pro. Temp., a current Senate President, a rebel in the old days, active across campus, a strong African American Woman that's made it to the top in a largely (and despite most people's new age perceptions) a man's world and schooled several of these might I add, she should get a bit more consideration from the students for being on your minds even if slightly threatening to your visions of the next SG roster, than others whom have made it into your thoughts for being so nice and so easy to work with. Remember, the President is the person that goes in there and gets the job done, the President should not be elected on whether or not you can stand there with this officer, in a hallway, and talk about the most boring topics and expect in return a polite smile back and their undivided attention. I would recommend to folks that look for these qualities in an SB Presidential candidate to vote for Diane Kassim and then head over to the humane society, get a nice kitten or puppy, and take either out for long walks in areas ranging from semi-public to abandoned, where they can have insightful conversations with the otherwise oblivious animal.

And yes, history does repeat itself, so what will Diane's opponents use to discredit her from being a viable candidate? Surely the party-switch will only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg, because even in an age of free expression such as ours, I seriously doubt that her fiercest opponents would ever dare expound on the real reasons why they are so vehemently opposed from even mentioning her name in real consideration for the top post of Student Government.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The KA Suspension

My view on hazing is very different than what many people have come to expect from me. I am a diehard independent, I believe in individuality, freedom, and across-the-boards reforms, however, I am also Greek and as a member of the Greek community I see myself a hardline traditionalist. I offer my opinion on fraternities solely, not to be sexist, but purely and simply because this is all I know of from a ritual-perspective.

I believe that in this day in age, the concept of brotherhood in many houses has been watered down to the point that pledges and even many initiated members of a house fail to grasp the extent of brotherhood and what exactly that means. Fraternities are deep rooted in masonic rituals, they are intended to be either secret or semi-secret societies whereby whatever goes on in a fraternity member's house stays in that house, be it conversation all the way to ritual.

What has been labeled 'hazing' by this university's judicial reviews is ridiculous and outrageous. These heavily-biased judicial reviews have no legal power, none. Fraternities that take part in this clearly flawed 'legal process' find themselves disproving their guilt, as opposed to defending their innocence from the moment they put their feet in these chambers. Fraternities have House Corps and vast state, national, and international resources at their disposal. Fraternities should ignore the calls from the DSO/Judicial Affairs and engage the University in real courts of law and they should take the advice of their graduate brothers over even their own wishes, because members of an undergraduate chapter can be easily deceived by the Greek-hating tyrants of this university's administration.

While I will not elaborate on tangible examples of what hazing is or is not, I will state that it is an imperative part of pledge education, it builds unity amongst the pledge class, and it weeds out the men from the boys. If a potential pledge cannot endure what every man before him has and is unwilling to give what is expected of him, he should be blackballed immediately. Joining a fraternity, is not so much about popularity, it's not about getting drunk, high*, and laid...though these activities do help pass the time quite nicely, the real reason a young man joins a fraternity is have a group of men he can trust to have his back in the life ahead, to be able to network with others to ensure he will make a good living in life, and to help others both in his local chapter as well as in the national/international organization to make it through the path and reach success. A fraternity is not a club, a fraternity is not a loose-membership entity, it is not merely a social experience, it is something very sacred, in ritual, history, and brotherhood and no man should reap these benefits without proving himself accordingly. Stealing signs may seem infantile, but don't get stuck looking at things in black-and-white, look beyond the tasks, and try to rationalize what else may be going on.

I hope that Kappa Alpha Order goes underground, continues to initiate pledges (even if hiding their names from nationals), I hope that KA continues its chapter meetings, and I hope that Greek men realize that the FRATERNITY is not the house, it is not the socials, it is not what some goon from the administration says, it is HISTORY, it is RITUAL, and it is BROTHERHOOD.