The University of North Florida is unique. We are united not by any one sport, degree program, or campus activity. We are united and enriched by the panoply of voices, perspectives, and experiences of our student body. We are artists, honors students, athletes, Greeks, gamers, Republicans, Democrats, engineers, philosophers, social scientists, refugees, members of the LGBTQ+ community and everything in between. The nest needs student body leadership that is uniquely capable of listening to and synthesizing these perspectives into a coherent, student-driven vision.
That is why we, UNF alumni and former campus leaders, encourage you to stand United with Rachel Bryant and Jesse Braughten on March 7 and 8. We have watched Rachel and Jesse grow as leaders and members of the UNF community since day one of their freshman year. We met them when they attended their first Model United Nations meeting, we evaluated them when they tried out for their first conference, and we competed alongside them at countless competitions across the nation. Beyond Model United Nations, we watched them grow as leaders in other campus organizations. In all of our experiences with Rachel and Jesse, we can assure you of one thing: you want them on your team.
Rachel and Jesse are strong-willed, passionate, tenacious, driven, organized, respectful, humble, creative and accepting leaders who, above all else, are committed to serving you. They will be amazing student body leaders because of their ability to pragmatically approach a diverse set of issues and resolve them through the most effective means possible. Moreover, they are experts in the art of inclusive leadership. Their accomplishments are a product of their ability to identify the unique skills of their peers and lift others up alongside them to accomplish a common goal.
The United Party offers an impressive list of initiatives that spans nutrition, mental health, textbook cost, internship programs and women’s health. We’d like to highlight some of our favorite United initiatives and explain why we think they will improve the UNF community.
First, Rachel and Jesse know that you will have one objective upon graduation: to get a job. While the amount of Chick-Fil-A any given UNF student eats might be truly impressive, employers want tangible proof of student talent. Internships are typically the best way of gaining this experience, but internships take time and resources. At a school where a large chunk of the student body works to supplement the cost of their education, not everyone can afford to take an unpaid internship. We have known many students, ourselves included, who were put under tremendous personal and financial stress while trying to maintain an internship and a job on top of coursework. At the same time, we would not be where we are today had we not taken the various internship opportunities that came our way. Given our experiences in the “real” world, we are convinced that the United Party’s department ambassadors proposal will give Ospreys an edge on the hiring front without forcing them to sacrifice time and resources.
Second, Rachel and Jesse’s pragmatism is evidenced by their ability to balance novelty initiatives with the basic needs of the UNF community. While proposing the addition of a Panda Express, they have not forgotten that an estimated 48 percent of college students will likely experience food insecurity at some point in their college career.  It would be remiss of any student body leadership to spend the time, resources and money advocating the construction of yet another fast food establishment on campus while neglecting the fundamental nutrition needs of those most in need. Rachel and Jesse’s proposal to add refrigerators to the Lend-A-Wing Pantry is a simple yet critical step in improving the availability of fresh food for our student body, and will likely be of very little cost to students.
Finally, incoming student body leadership will need to balance demand for campus resources with finite budget allocations. This will require Student Government leadership to address not only large scale issues like food availability, but also smaller program-specific needs. The UNF Counseling Center, for example, recently reported an increase in student demand which, as Rachel highlighted during the debate, has led to a shortage of Counseling Center resources. In fact, wait times at the Counseling Center have more than doubled in the past few years, with students now waiting an upwards of three weeks to receive counseling. Increased Counseling Center wait times could mean that students do not receive timely assistance, or worse, that they are deterred from seeking help all together. Given the upward trend in reported mental health issues among college students, this United Party initiative is both timely and commonsensical.  We encourage you to view this proposal as an exemplification of Rachel and Jesse’s ability to get in front of problems and develop solutions before issues become dire.
UNF campus life has undergone tremendous growth since our freshman years, and we hope to see that growth continue. Students now have more clubs to join, more campus events to attend, and most importantly, a greater variety of student leaders to choose from. The UNF United Party represents a dynamic and inclusive student leadership style that is needed to keep the Osprey community thriving. We hope you will join us in enthusiastically supporting Rachel, Jesse, and the entire United senate ticket on March 7 and 8!
Haleigh Hutchison, UNF ‘15
Joy Bagwell, UNF ‘14
Philip Sabado, UNF ‘14
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