"At half mark, Swamp falls short of goals"
Really it's not so outlandish for the student' paper to call out the ruling party mid way through the year. While the lede imparts an early bias against Swamp, let me stress that expecting a student political party to complete even a quarter of a 29-part-platform in one calendar year is ridiculous (a. if in fact parties promise 29 key issues, they're mad - & - if the Alligator expects a student party to deliver THAT much, they too are bonkers). Unless of course we're not speaking of key [tangible] issues (e.g. providing students with more covered bus stops as opposed to, "making SG more honest"...).
I must admit though, that I was I surprised Boyles & Co. did not use the resignation of SBVP Lydia Washington, the replacement process, and/or the disarray that Cabinet must have found itself in during this past summer as a plausible excuse to keep informed-voters in their hip pocket. On the other hand, the Alligator also made no mention of Swamp's complete control of both governing branches or of last semester's sweep at the polls. I loved the shameless Weiss-plug in the article, with over a dozen paragraph-like entities devouted to the SG Executive, a couple for Clouston (the Minority), and two for Weiss.
I love how in assessing the accomplishments of the Swamp Party in the Student Senate, Ms. DaSilva and the Alligator make reference only to Josh Weiss; I'm sure in "Today's Senate" the name Josh Weiss also includes JCB, Hardwick, Loh, Green, etc... Elections be damned, if the Alligator wants to level the presidential playing field that's fine, but they should have mentioned at least two more Swamp kids in Senate (3 in exec, 3 in legislative), this way it would have seemed as if it was equal between candidates and equal between branches. Putting Weiss as the lone Swamp star in senate is just a disservice to those members of the Party that have worked long hours so that the Party could at least boast of 1/4 of its platform by this point in the term.
***I sent out a special W.O.T.N invitation to key leaders of both parties, but I am told it's reading days/finals time, so I'll just post the two responses I received and be grateful for that:
From Sen. Jordan Loh:
Thank you for inviting me to participate.
"Swamp laid out an ambitious and attainable platform. Unfortunately, important initiatives, such as an SG sponsored book exchange, involved processes that may take more than one or two election cycles to realize, despite concerted effort. The Swamp Party, led by SBP John Boyles, has been an active and successful advocate for students in as varied arenas as student representation in city government to fighting attempts to raise towing rates. To judge the success of Swamp merely by what has been completely accomplished to date (and even that is quite a bit) would be deceptive- the executive branch and the entire Senate have been investing time and energy in programs and projects, such as improving busing transportation on campus, that will pay dividends in the future."
Concise (As Requested). To the point. Excellent. TY Sen. Loh.
From Sen. Gavin Baker:
1. The students' needs: 3 / 5
The Boyles/Swamp administration has done a decent job of attempting to address student needs.
As far as I know, all of SG's popular programs and services have been preserved. Some of the less effective programs have also been preserved, such as some of the under-utilized cabinets. On the other hand, some programs have had fat trimmed, such as the CPA ticket subsidy, and others have been strengthened, such as the readership programs, which finally found their way into the annual budget.
The early challenge of adjusting the AY 06-07 budget to deal with deficit was ably met. It didn't all turn out the way I'd have liked -- I wanted SG to cut more of its own fat, cut less from student groups, and find ways to put more expenses in the budget rather than paying from reserves -- but the basic criterion was satisfied, and on time.
The 07-08 budget was, I think, really quite good. Again, I'd have preferred a leaner SG internal budget, but it could have been a lot worse. We're directing extra funds to the Reitz Union because they need it -- and of everything SG does, probably nothing affects more students more directly than the Union. Similarly, the recently-passed special events budget directs more to the events that need it, such as Kaleidoscope month. I would have preferred a higher overall growth for our organizations, but there weren't a lot of options, and I hope that the Budget Committee will parcel it out in the most effective way.
In terms of student advocacy, I think the administration has been decently effective. I feel like the Lobby Coordinator is out on his own at times -- this important office should be given higher priority, more staff, and more funding. The administration took the right position on the Academic Enhancement Program and the minus grade proposal, even if we arrived there someone haltingly. The real test will be the spring legislative session in Tallahassee. We should have been more engaged, and more quickly, in the CLAS situation, but we did alright. On city matters, again, they haven't hit anything out of the park, but they haven't fumbled anything major either (to mix sports metaphors).
I can't give a ringing endorsement on any of the above (with the exception of the 07-08 budget, which I'm rather a fan of), but there's nothing horrible either.
The horrible part is the utter failure of Chomp the Vote. This is an extremely important program to students individually as well as for our goals as a Student Government (since more voters = more ability to get what we want), and I don't think it's a stretch to say it's important to the future of the country. I don't know who to blame here, but SG totally dropped the ball here. This should have been a hallmark of the administration, but instead, it may be one of its biggest failures.
2. Principles of leadership: 2 / 5
SG hasn't made more than baby steps toward better accountability, transparency, accessibility, and involvement.
I don't know that I've ever been outright lied to (with the exception of "we did not promise positions"*), but I don't feel like our leadership has been entirely honest with us, either. Some leadership figures have been very forthcoming, but others, less so.
The administration's relationship with the press is not entirely frosty, but it ought to be warmer.
Blue Key's influence is still too strong, there are still too few non-Greeks, and personal and/or partisan politics still rears its ugly head too often.
* I know some Swampie will want to tell me I'm wrong on the issue of patronage. Go ahead and spare us both. You're not gonna change anyone's mind.
3. Swamp's own goals: 3 / 5
Well, the article speaks for itself. They've only accomplished a few, they've started on some, and -- if my math works here -- there's some issues they haven't even really started on, halfway through their term.
Aside from the Alligator piece, President Boyles delivered his sort of "state of the SG" report on Tuesday. Many of the subjects he claimed, in fact, had little if anything to do with SG's efforts on that front.
Many will probably not be accomplished within the term, and some will probably never be accomplished. Of course, that alone is not a reason not to try -- but it's not entirely honest to say that plans are being discussed for a 24-hour study location on campus, to paraphrase one statement made, when those plans were already being discussed, and no particular involvement on SG's part has been cited.
Some goals have been inverted entirely. In Spring, the promise was more courtesy(yellow) and emergency (blue) phones. Then, when we needed to save money, SG began an attempt to find "wasteful spending" in nonfunctional, underutilized, or redundant yellow phones -- and rather than increasing the number, it actually decreased. It can be argued that this is actually the best thing to do, since it's the most effective use of resources, but we should not disregard that it is nonetheless a reversal of platform.
The promises to increase diversity in SG and reform SG to better represent students are failures. It's not that nothing was attempted,but rather, it was too little, too late.
The platforms really promised the stars, and that makes it hard to deliver. This is a bit of a structural problem: to stay competitive, parties feel pressured to promise a lot, when in reality, SG's capabilities are quite limited (particularly vis-a-vis faculty, the administration, the city, the state, etc.) I don't think Swamp was, on the whole, that much worse (if any) than Unite or Action on this count, but they haven't made things any better, either.
There's still three months left for the Spring senators and five months left for the executives, so things could happen -- or they might not, and I might have to revise my score down in the final count.
A Book, not-at-all concise, but a good book. TY Sen. Baker
From Sen. Pedro Morales:
Thank you for the opportunity to include me in the list of student leaders and for soliciting my opinion! I don't know if I'll be able to meet the requirement to respond concisely. :)
I think Swamp is doing a decent job. As always there is room for improvement but there are important things that must be highlighted.
For one, I have to congratulate Swamp in successfully including a diverse slate of people in Senate and Cabinet. I am most proud of the new Hispanic, Asian American and African American, and LGBTQ members of the Senate and Cabinet. While Swamp retains its "system tendencies", I think it has made a good attempt, if not, at deflating the usual opposition. This Spring race will be most interesting, because the way, in my opinion, Swamp has managed to, no pun intended, "unite" the diverse opposition under their banners. I will be watching the Spring race most intently, for I predict and perhaps look forward to the campus being united under one moderate and hard-working presidential candidate. This Spring race definitely will be unique and I look forward to it.
One thing that I am most happy is that the Mayors Council were able to come through Allocations for their international movie night, given that they had the budget shortfall, Allocations stepped up beautifully to help this organization. Last Thursday, President Machen announced at the Graduate Student Council his priorities for graduate students, namely, continuing funding for GatorGradCare through the FL Legislature, raising graduate assistant stipends across the board, and building a new graduate housing village.
Reapportionment was a bit disappointing, in the sense that I was hoping for an eighth graduate seat. I acknowledge that I cannot complain about it, because I take the blame for it. The resolution recommending no reapportionment passed in the Senate by one vote, which was mine. I favored it because I thought Sen. Ryan Nelson had good points in his debate, but I saw little willingness from the Senate Judiciary Committee to draft a different proposal. So since the current apportionment is now unconstitutional, due to my interpretation, and the folding Architecture and BCP, I voted in favor of the resolution, so it could move out of the Senate's hands and into the SG Supreme Court. Had I voted against it, I would have forced Judiciary to redraft a new reapportionment bill, so in that respect, I failed to watch out for my constituents.
Another interesting book, LOL. TY for your response, nice touch.