UF Student Gov't elections: Vote March 25-26
Charlie Grapski
March 1997

It is that time of the year once again. The Student Government machinery at the University of Florida is once again in motion as election season has begun. This year, however, promises to be an interesting one.

While the political machine of Florida Blue Key (FBK) has once again donned a new name, Action, their base of support has begun to come unglued. Typically mobilizing primarily among the Greek community, through a system of rewards and punishment that has tended to keep the Greeks in line, FBK has managed to monopolize SG throughout recent memory.

This year is different. Internally FBK has become divided by political infighting and among their base, the fraternities and sororities, there has grown dissension. Tired of the negative impact of the "machine" and its one-party domination a number of Greek students have declared their independence from the machine and their willingness to work with all other groups and students to change the face and the substance of SG.

Facing up to the FBK-backed Action Party (currently known as Equity) it appeared there would be two challengers. Vision'97 announced its presidential candidate, Greg Cook, a fraternity member willing to stand up to the machine and to seek a representative and responsible SG. Also in the running was the "Coalition" -- a group made up of long time independent activists and members of both of last years parties, Students' Party and Alliance Party, which split the independent vote.

But the "Coalition" merged their effort to form the Vision'97 Team, believing the opportunity existed this year to truly bring all those students truly committed to reforming SG together.

Vision'97, after its merger with the "Coalition," has three candidates running as well. Greg Cook is a member of Phi Delta Theta and has served as the Lobby Director for SG. Unlike the spending junket that SG was criticized for two years ago, with two students being paid by SG and living in a luxury apartment full time in Tallahassee, Cook drove each week to the state's capital and stayed in his parents' home. The Vice-Presidential candidate is Heather Kelley who has served this past year as both President of the Board of College Councils and as the Director of Disability Affairs. In the Treasurer spot, Vision'97 has placed Business Administration College Council President David Lapinsky. Lapinsky transferred here from Jacksonville where he also served as the President of his community college. Vision'97 has also stressed the importance of their Senate candidates which represent a diverse segment of the University population. All aspects of campus are represented in this group.

SG politics is often a game, it is seldom democratic, and dominated by a single machine. The only solution to this dilemma lies in the voices of the average student. With turnouts usually at ten percent or lower, even a small increase in turnout can mean and end to the domination by FBK and its party. This year promises to be an interesting one. Voting will take place March 25 and 26.

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