OPINION: Student Government is for the students, let’s take advantage

Ethan Leckie, Opinions Reporter

[Updated Nov. 4: A previous version of this article mistakenly reported that Student Government would begin their Spring 2023 semester with 18 senators total. A total of 19 senators are running in the Fall 2022 election. Spinnaker takes errors seriously and apologizes for the error. The graphic “Fall 2022 Election, Senate Breakdown” was also updated to reflect the correct information.]

My fellow students, we have a problem. The one institution on this campus that can directly address our concerns is not getting the support it needs. For far too long it has been neglected by our student body, an afterthought in our collective conscience.

In fact, it has come to my attention that some of you might not even know it exists (not going to lie, I’m a bit scared by that). What am I talking about? Student Government (SG), of course!

This is not another “get out and vote” puff piece haphazardly asking you to care about SG (also because the election is uncontested… for the third straight semester). I’ll admit— I have rarely paid attention to the happenings of SG. Probably not the best thing to disclose as an “informed citizen,” but I’m working on it (this piece is a start).

In fact, writing this piece has forced me to do the most research on SG I have ever done. What I found was deeply concerning.

Nineteen senators will be appointed to SG this fall without an election and a total 26 members will comprise Senate in the spring. For context, there are 40 seats in the Senate, meaning that our SG will be managing our money at just over half capacity. This is a problem.

Graphic showing the 10 seats claimed by the Soar Party in orange, 9 seats claimed by the Unity party in blue, and 22 open seats in gray
A total of 19 candidates are running in the Fall 2022 election this semester. Ten are from the Soar Party, and nine are from the Unity Party. Graphic created with data supplied by SG.

But how much money are they really managing, Ethan? Well, I’m glad you asked, theoretical person! SG’s projected budget for the ‘22/’23 fiscal year is $6,179,400

Remember that “Student Government Fee” that pops up on your MyWings bill every semester? Yeah, that goes in there. This is our money that they’re spending, and they’re getting absolutely zero input from us, the student body, on how to spend it. 

Why are we not running for office and filling every seat in the Senate? Why are we not paying attention and packing the debates with members of the student body? SG works for us, but it cannot function properly if we don’t care enough to participate.

Again, SG is the only institution at UNF that can directly address our concerns. Need better lighting for an athletic field? Call SG. Are there not enough spaces to accommodate large groups for religious ceremonies on campus? SG can fix that. Are you tired of the current on-campus dining options and want something new? Don’t worry, SG has you covered. Need funding for an on-campus club or organization? Yep, you guessed it! SG’s $6.1 million budget can certainly help with that.

Students stand in line for Qdoba
After a semester of effort by UNF’s Student Government to bring a more diverse food venue on campus, Qdoba officially opened on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022 in the student union food court.

SG has proven time and again that it will listen to our concerns and do its best to address them. The problems that they currently face are simply not their fault. At some point, we must look ourselves in the mirror and recognize that this is a problem we have caused.

I get it- we’re busy, tired, cash-strapped, and arguably overworked students with enough responsibilities already on our plates. However, SG has done its part in getting students involved. It’s our turn now to step up and help them help us. The first step is to care. 


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].