There’s a lot of mixed feelings and publicity surrounding the SGA presidential election this year, which started today and ends at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Some students feel adamant about having the former SGA presidential candidate Jacob Milich kicked off the ballot after being found guilty of violating SGA statutes regarding election procedures. As a result, one UCF student, Manny Orozco Ballestas, a senior political science major, has taken to social media to express his concerns and urge students to not participate in this year’s SGA election.
“It's with much discomfort that I plea to all students of this school to omit themselves from this week's election," Ballestas wrote in a personal Facebook post. “This is the one time where not voting will make your voice heard. SGA has given us one viable choice this election — that's not a democracy, that's authoritarianism.”
Even though the polls opened today, Milich is still trying to have the election delayed.
“I’m still in court trying to get the election delayed or rescheduled so that the student voices can be heard, but this is definitely an uphill battle,” Jacob said in an interview with Fox News on March 28.
Ballestas said he was also a candidate for student body president but had to withdraw due to personal matters. He implies the comical manner in which current SGA presidential candidate Anthony Safadi runs his campaign is not conducive to his chances of winning the election, leaving only one viable candidate: Christopher Clemente and his running mate Rachel Altfield.
“My suggestion to boycott this election doesn't come lightly," Ballestas wrote in a Facebook comment. “We have two candidates in this race — one that's currently making a mockery of our system by imitating Donald Trump and simply as no path towards a victory. Quite literally leaving the other one running unopposed.”
Boycotting the SGA presidential election will not make much difference, however, as there is currently no minimum percentage of votes required from UCF’s student population for the results to be considered valid.
SGA president Cait Zona explained that she cannot postpone the election unless one of two circumstances transpire.
“Statues clearly state that the president can only postpone an election under certain circumstances,” Zona said. “The two circumstances being a campus emergency or an unalterable event that would exclude part of the student body from voting. Students have every right to express themselves through voting for a candidate, or their decision not to vote.”
Freshman Audrey Widner, a writing and rhetoric and political science double major, served as a temporary signover — someone who temporarily replaces a senators seat if a senator takes a leave of absence — on the SGA senate for a month this semester. She finds Ballestas’ proposal to boycott the election "ridiculous" and thinks the whole situation is not accurately reported by student media.
“But to propose that students boycott [an] SGA election is ridiculous and melodramatic," she said. "Students have a misperception about the events of this election because of the clearly biased and irresponsible journalism of Knight News, who put forth their own agenda and sensationalized stories to create clickbait. This is not some conspiracy or grand corruption.”
When asked to elaborate on her comment, Widner said she believes the angle some media publications report might be slightly biased, which she is concerned could lead students to believe there is a huge scandal that does not exist in actuality.
“In regard to that point, I just think it's disheartening that it seems like so many students have been lead to believe that there's a huge scandal at play when in actuality that's just that narrative one biased news source is pushing,” Wildner said. “I think a lot of people are inclined to make accusations of corruption simply because that feels edgy and mirrors the tone of the national presidential election, even if they don't know the facts of the matter."
Ballestas has since deleted his Facebook post, but he said he has not changed his mind or position on the issue. He said he deleted it because he did not think it would be effective and because he felt guilty for “indirectly bashing” one of the presidential candidate’s campaign.
“I also felt guilty indirectly bashing Chris's campaign," he said. "I've gotten to know him over the [past] couple of weeks, and I have to admit he's a good guy. He has some great ideas for this school and would more likely than not make a good President. However, it doesn't change the fact that he's simply running unopposed. I find this to be extremely troubling and unethical on SGA’s behalf.”
Ballestas also said another reason he deleted the post is because he understands that boycotting the election won’t make a difference, however, he still maintains that SGA is operating on a “broken system” that needs to be fixed.
“I’m truly disappointed in my SGA this year,” Ballestas wrote in an email. “Their actions towards sending one of their own straight to the presidency is shameful.”
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Gabby_Baquero or email her at MariaB@centralfloridafuture.com