It has come to student attention thanks to an article by The Oracle that there are allegations of bribery in the upcoming Student Body Presidential election at USF. Sparing the details, this scandal is the most recent reflection of a phenomenon that has affected USF student government (SG) for a number of years. Certain SG elected officials have abused their positions to push personal political agendas at the expense of focusing on issues affecting the USF student body.
In 2014, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) collected around 10,000 signatures to persuade the USF Foundation to end divestment, which they find against their personal political views. Although a resolution related to this petition was vetoed by Student Body President Andy Rodriguez, senators Hala Alkattan and Muhammad Imam presented another identical resolution that circumvents the authority of the executive branch.
In addition to this, USF Hillel has been central in opposition to these resolutions, claiming anti-Semitism as a motivation for these resolutions. Now, there are allegations of foul play on behalf of USF Hillel.
These events taking place in our Student Government are reflections of a larger Middle-Eastern political conflict, which has been raging on for decades. I take no stance in it, and I am sure many students follow suit. However, it is not in the interest of this university or its general student body to involve itself in this political showdown between Israel and Palestine.
It has been made clear both within SG and in the general student population that the divestment issue and its related scandals are detrimental to SG and not of interest for a public university in Florida. SG should be focused on improving the experience of students and providing a voice for change taking place on campus for students, and not in international politics.
Elected SG officials should understand they represent a diverse and multicultural student population and should focus on tackling common issues that affect all students, not special interests of groups such as SJP or Hillel. They must make an effort to maintain their personal, political and religious beliefs separate from their duties as SG officials representing all students.
Furthermore, allegations of foul play should be directed to the proper authorities with proper evidence, less it devolve to mudslinging seen much too often in today's political climate.
It is time for SG to move on and focus on issues affecting USF students once again.
Michel Plazas is a senior majoring in cellular and molecular biology.