From Peter Gruskin
Fmr. Student Advocacy C.D. (2004)
Fmr. Access Party APC (F'04)
Fmr. Voice Party Treasurer (S'05)
Fmr. Voice Party President (F'05)
Being an "independent" in Student Government at the University of Florida means more than just not having party loyalty to one of the (sometimes only one) parties. If party loyalty was the only criteria to consider, every student who doesn't know the names of this year's (usually) greek and non-greek parties would be, by defintion, "an independent." Obviously, there is more to it than this.
The overarching definition of independence in my opinion, is a commitment to pluralism in SG. When a (usually Greek) party gives one senate seat to each house on Fraternity or Sorority Row, this is a strand of anti-democracy that an independent should be working against. Everyone knows that the name of the game is numbers: who can get the most houses on their side? Who can get the most money raised from big-name donors who are connected to UF via the Greek alumni world? I know, not all who help the Greek party are Greek--but I believe it is fair to view the system through this bias. Statistically, most years, the Greek party wins precisely because it has near unanimous support in the Greek community--people who almost unanimously turn out to vote for their slate.
Revolutions come and go in SG. The Access Party once demanded "access for all!" until they won the Executive on a groundswell of popularism thanks to pluralistic ideas. Then things changed. After Access won, the party leadership "sold old" to the Greek system--completely. I mean, there is not much to say in their defense. They claimed it was because they wanted to include the Greeks who were left out of the "Access Revolution," but by giving each fraternity one senate seat (literally giving it to them, since Access was basically running unopposed), they only decreased the voice of the independents and non-Greek 85% majority of campus. After all, why should each house have proportional or even equal representation? They are not the only living quarters for UF students. (Maybe all students who live in the dorms should be required to vote as a provision in their housing contract with UF.)
But then again, if Access can win as an independent party and just as quickly turn into the Greek party, maybe it is fair to say that the "independent" community in SG is weak. Those who are the strongest independents, in my opinion, have let their actions speak louder than their words. They have been working with the Pants party this past election, and with the past non-mainstream parties in years before. If these students were to disappear, the small group of independents that is left in campus politics would shrink even further into oblivion. Independents cannot let this happen.
My votes: Hanrahan, Fitzpatrick
Chomp The Vote: Who's Accountable?