If you thought IFC President and Homecoming King Kyle Schumacher’s decision to file an election violation and publish a letter on KnightNews.com calling for sweeping changes to UCF’s elections exposed a controversy — then you’ll probably think what is happening right now in heart of the Gator Nation is downright scandalous.
Allegations of hazing, withholding food from sorority pledges who don’t vote and rewarding those who do with alcohol were among some of the shocking tactics allegedly used by those within the University of Florida’s Student Government, according to the Gainesville Sun, which reported the tactics were caught on a secretly recorded audio file.
“Not too many sororities do that, that’s awesome,” said a member of student government present during the February 23 meeting allegedly held at UF’s Theta Chi house after the polls closed that day, according to the report.
“That’s amazing, that’s what you need to do,” he reportedly said, referring to a sorority member’s alleged comment about how they don’t allow their pledges to eat until they vote.
During UCF’s SGA elections, KnightNews.com was told allegations of hazing were made against pledges for forcing them to campaign, but those allegations were never substantiated by the school, according to a source close to the issue. Pledges were seen campaigning for both sides during UCF’s election.
At the University of Florida, however, it appears Greeks stick together under the Unite Party. According to the Sun, the recording detailed just how important party members felt it was to maintain control.
“We gotta win this election tomorrow,” one member was recorded saying. “That way we can continue dominating this campus, continue doing what we want and continue living the life that we live.”
A sorority member warned those gathered during the meeting that the opposing Student Alliance party wanted Greek Life destroyed.
“They want everything gone for us,” she says. “It’s not a joke. They want to see every letter we have stripped away from us. They don’t want us to live the life we have.”
Current UF Student Body President Jordan Johnson confirmed to the Sun he attended a meeting at the Theta Chi house that night, but denied hearing anything about providing alcohol or denying food in return for voting or not voting, the paper reported.
Johnson also suggested the recording, which was reportedly obtained by an anonymous person and then obtained by the Student Alliance party, may have been obtained illegally.
As KnightNews.com reported during the alleged Will Lusk bribery scandal hearings, Florida law requires all parties consent during recorded telephone calls. However, the legality of recording someone who is not on the phone becomes less clear.
According to the Citizen Media Law Project, Florida law allows non-consensual audio recording when the parties do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the conversation, such as when they are engaged in conversation in a public place where they might reasonably be overheard.
It would apparently be up to a court to decide whether those in the alleged meeting had a reasonable expectation of privacy when they were recorded. The recording was reportedly played during UF’s Tuesday night Student Senate meeting in Gainesville.
Jonathan Ossip, a senator with the Student Alliance party, told the Sun, “This confirms everything we’ve always been saying about Student Government. There’s corruption; there’s coercion; it’s broken and it needs to be fixed.”
He also suggested what he apparently considers to be a culture of corruption could eventually poison the Florida Legislature, which boasts a large number of Gator alumni.
“If that’s what they’re teaching our future leaders,” he told the Sun, “then I’m really scared what our politicians are gonna look like in 15 years.”
KnightNews.com will file a public records request for the audio recording Thursday, and publish it once we receive it.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
Click on NEXT PAGE below to read a copy of the transcript, as published on http://www.thefineprintuf.org/2010/03/03/audio-test/