Compared to other Florida schools, the USF campaign season has been downright tame.
Political party affiliations, heavy Greek life involvement and grievance complaints are things that typically spark controversy, however, while other student government elections in schools such as the University of Florida and Florida State University, USF tends to shy away from all three.
At UF, for instance, the student newspaper reported that its copies were dumped in trash cans, allegedly by one of the political parties. The two sides turned the election into a Greek vs. student press affair. Pro-Greek writers fired back on blogs and in videos such as this:
Their paper, the Independent Florida Alligator, also reported one sorority sister’s allegations that she was forced to collect “I voted” stickers and vote a Greek slate.
But at USF, Student body President Matt Diaz said Greek involvement depends on the ticket and the candidate.
With a campaign ticket where both members were Greek during his own election, Diaz said their houses were successfully involved in their campaigning.
“But, overall the affiliation from Greek will come from (the Greek’s) interests and will vary on the tickets,” he said.
Diaz said while controversy may be good for voting numbers and reporting, it distracts from the real value - what they’re voting on - so it’s a double-edged sword.
Voting began Feb. 27 and Diaz said this election has been interesting.
“It’s kinda quiet, no major grievances filed,” he said. ” It’s a wide open field, with no clear front-runner in this election.”
James Bodden, Supervisor of Elections for USF, said USF doesn’t have party affiliations and the only thing you’ll typically see, is if a candidate has or doesn’t have student government experience.
“It’s not something that’s ever been stopped through a statute or anything like that, but it has been discouraged through the environment of student government,” he said. “Typically with parties comes a higher restriction of who can run [for office.] So I know when people have tried to kind of ignite a party fire in student government; it has been discouraged by other students.”
Greek life in student government is also present at USF, but not to the extent that some may think and certainly not to the extent as in other schools, such as UF, where houses are required to actively take part in campaigning.
“Traditionally, Greek life has had a strong presence in voting, but there is this misconception that Greek life dominates USF SG,” Bodden said. “But, in the previous three years I’ve been here, Greek involvement has been less than half of SG and actually a minority of the leadership of SG.”
Bodden said that typically at USF, each Greek house has a separate process for how they look at each candidate. Candidates will also try to speak at each chapter meeting.
From there, especially if there’s more than one Greek candidate running, the Greek community will take their time looking at the issues and choose a candidate per chapter, so there may be a split within the community; but if there’s only one Greek candidate, then all of Greek goes for that candidate, he said.
When controversy does arise, however, Bodden said it’s usually when one candidate files a grievance against another for an election misconduct.