UF student elections: Gator Party sweeps Change Party, Communist Party
by Aron Ali-McClory
Over the past month, the spring 2022 elections at the University of Florida were held, with 50 Senate seats proportioned to the university’s various colleges at stake, as well as the lucrative “executive ticket,” composed of a party’s presidential, vice presidential, and treasurer candidates.
Three political parties were running candidates for the Student Senate: Communist Party, Change Party, and Gator Party. The latter two parties both fielded executive ticket candidates – the Communist Party did not. The Change Party made history by fielding UF’s first all Black, queer, and femme slate of candidates for their executive ticket.
Both the Communist Party and the Change Party focused on fighting against “the System”: a coalition of Greek organizations represented in Student Government politics by the Gator Party, which has been exposed for forcing members of Greek organizations to vote, and has been accused of stifling change and progress in Student Government at UF. However, Communist and Change had differing approaches to fighting “the System.”
The Change Party opted for a centrist platform, which pushed for the implementation of online voting, and the expansion of library hours to be 24/7, among several other points. In addition to their normal canvassing efforts in the open areas of the UF campus, the Change Party also held a protest in support of sexual assault victims, and a Black food and arts market. Mid-way through the month-long campaign season, which started on Jan. 26, the Change Party released a zine, which detailed the wrongdoings of “the System” in a digestible format.
The Communist Party, meanwhile, opted for a decisively provocative leftist platform, calling for debt relief for students, the unionization of Student Government salaried workers, and a “Trans Solidarity Fund” to assist transgender students with legal costs associated with transitioning. The Communists held an almost strictly digital campaign, releasing a list of 12 platform points, various critiques of “the System” and the Change Party, among other materials on their Instagram page, which grew rapidly during the election cycle.
Despite their efforts, neither the Change nor the Communist Party prevailed on election night. The Gator Party triumphed over the Change Party in the race for the executive ticket, with the Gator Party claiming almost two-thirds of the vote for their presidential, vice presidential, and treasurer candidates.
The Gator Party won 44 seats outright, compared to the Change Party’s five seats, and no seats for the Communists. The Change Party, which had previously stated a goal of winning a third of the Senate’s seats or 33 in total – was left with just 12 members in the 100 person Student Senate at the end of the night.
The results left Change Party supporters somber. Volunteers and candidates were visibly upset on the ground floor of the J. Wayne Reitz Union as Gator Party supporters cheered their landslide victory.
The Communist Party, meanwhile, looked to the future with optimism. Although they won no seats, an announcement on their Instagram spoke of success in the Student Honor Court, and in starting conversations around pressing social issues. They announced their dissolution as a party, although the announcement stated that they were only gaining momentum, and would likely be back as a new party.