Candidates with experience, Unity Party ticket poised to take uncontested election

Ethan Leckie, Reporter

With the upcoming election, the Unity Party announced Nathaniel Rodefer and Joshua Murry as their Student Government (SG) presidential ticket, with Rodefer for Student Body President and Murry for Vice President. 


Meet the candidates

Rodefer and Murry have a combined five years of experience serving in SG and have held various high-level positions during their tenures.

Nathaniel Rodefer, a Junior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies and Environmental Studies, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Living in nearby Cambridge, both of his parents were involved in academia. Shortly after he was born, his family moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where he spent much of his early childhood. 

Unfortunately, after severe flooding in the Midwestern United States in 2007-’08, his family lost their home. The Rodefers eventually settled in Tallahassee, Florida, a move that Nathaniel called a “hail mary.” After finishing high school, Nathaniel chose to attend UNF. 

“I got one of those afternoon twilight tours,” he joked.

A Junior majoring in both Musical Performance, with a focus in Vocal Performance, and Political Science with a focus in International Studies, Joshua Murry was born in Jacksonville, Florida to a British immigrant mother and a father from Alabama who worked with the Navy. 

The Unity Party logo.
The Unity Party logo. Courtesy of the Unity Party.

“We did okay […] we didn’t struggle but at the same time we weren’t massively wealthy,” Murray said about his upbringing. “We lived within our means.”

After finishing high school, Murry chose to attend UNF largely due to its music program and its size; “I would be able to meet with a lot of professors, get to know them one-on-one, and get a lot more individual time with them,” he explained.

With three years of service to SG, Rodefer has acquired a great deal of experience. As a freshman in 2019, he was appointed to be a senator in the legislative branch and has held that position since. During his second year, he was appointed vice-chair of the University and Student Affairs Committee and was promoted to chair of the committee this year. In these positions, Rodefer is responsible for “running [SG] meetings, scheduling the meetings, and making sure [SG’s] business is properly handled.”

Having several years of service within SG also means that Rodefer has accomplished many things. One such example is the privilege to serve on several university-wide committees, which “exist to govern certain aspects of the university,” according to Rodefer. These committees have staff and faculty serving on them in addition to students. Currently, he serves on the Sustainability Committee, the SAILS Scholarship Committee, the Academic Appeals Committee, and the Student Union Advisory Board Committee.

Specifically, Rodefer is proud of his work with the Sustainability Committee. According to him, there wasn’t a student voice on the committee for a year: “I was able to work with the Chair of that committee to talk about students’ experiences with sustainability on campus.” Rodefer is now chair of a sub-committee within the Sustainability Committee that specializes in student outreach and input regarding sustainability on campus.

Murry became a part of SG in the summer of 2020. He became interested in joining after watching several debates and senate meetings. 

“I enjoyed the debate, the topics discussed, and learning just how much impact student government actually has on this university,” he said.

Murry was appointed as a senator that summer, and then appointed vice-chair of the Senate Rules and Oversight Committee in the fall of that year. He served under the Senate President Pro Tempore, who chaired the committee.

After being re-elected in the fall of 2021, he ran for Senate President Pro Tempore, who chairs the Senate Rules and Oversight Committee and is responsible for the internal affairs of the senate. He won the position in April of that year and was then appointed Interim Senate President in May. 

In June, Murry then ran for Senate President. He was elected by the Senate body and has served in that position since. As Senate President, he is responsible for overseeing the senate body, reviewing internal procedures, working closely with the chairs of each committee, running senate meetings, and communicating with the other branches of SG. 

“I take a lot more of the internal facets of student government,” Murry described. 

Nathaniel believes that his “negative experiences with administration” have allowed him to understand the perils of not addressing issues prudently, something he wishes to fix once elected. An alumnus of Lawton Chiles High School, a predominantly white institution, he saw the impacts of the school’s refusal to address its racial tensions. 

“There was one time when someone spray-painted swastikas on the ground, on the walls, everywhere,” he recalled. 

He learned that “you do need people that are actively invested in individuals’ experiences when it comes to campus. There is a different culture you have to understand, different environments you have to understand, and how the individual interacts with that.”

This incident has inspired Nathaniel’s commitment to “solidly addressing issues when they happen” on the UNF campus, specifical events of antisemitism, racism, and LGBTQ+ intolerance. Moreover, both Rodefer and Murry are committed to fostering an SG  that is unafraid to address these issues due to the negative press they could generate for the university. 

“One of the things my background has empowered me with is the desire to have a governing body that not only acknowledges these events as happening and is understanding of the severity of them but also talks about them as well. If we don’t talk about [these events] nothing changes,” Rodefer explained.

The Unity Party has nominated Nathaniel Rodefer (left) and Joshua Murry (right) as their presidential ticket candidates for the Spring 2022 election.
The Unity Party has nominated Nathaniel Rodefer (left) and Joshua Murry (right) as their presidential ticket candidates for the Spring 2022 election. The two are committed to emphasizing transparency within SG and expanding student outreach efforts. Graphic courtesy of The Unity Party.

Through his experience being chair of the University and Student Affairs Committee, Rodefer has learned the importance of listening to students’ input. 

“One of the things I’ve come to realize is that we have religious groups on campus that practice on the green, or they have to rent out conference rooms for prayer,” he explained. “They have to go through so many hurdles to practice their religious needs.”

If elected, Nathaniel says he would be committed to working with the university to find adequate space for interreligious accommodations on campus.

Another key issue both Rodefer and Murry wish to address is the university’s actions regarding sustainability. “We live on a nature preserve, and we benefit from that immensely but one of the things they struggle with is waste production and management,” Rodefer said. 

Moreover, they are concerned about how the university does not currently recycle single-use plastics, metals, or other recyclable materials. “It’s kind of heartbreaking. We see all the recycle bins on campus, and to know that they go to the dumpster at the end of the day is a little heartbreaking,” Rodefer said. 

With this in mind, Rodefer and Murry are devoted to finding a solution, either by mitigating the consumption of single-use materials or increasing the university’s recycling efforts. Rodefer cited past SG initiatives that have been successful “to moderate degrees” that have been effective in improving sustainability on campus. “There are plenty of opportunities to reinstate [these programs] or to turn them up a notch,” he elaborated. 

Overall, the pair’s experience within SG is what they believe will allow them to lead effectively as the presidential ticket. 

“When it comes to Student Government and campus issues, we have the knowledge to get things done,” Rodefer clarified. 

“What we want to see from Student Government is productivity on tackling issues,” Nathaniel closed, “not even ones that we outline but also ones that are arisen to us.” 

Time to vote?

Elections will take place from March 8 through March 9.  The presidential election is uncontested, meaning Roderfer and Murry are expected to be the next SG president and vice president.                


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