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UPDATE- 1:04 AM EST 2-15-2016
Accusations of corruption in student government at the University of Florida are being put out in the open by a prominent UF student activist who previously helped to perpetuate a notorious secret society on campus.
Sabrina Philipp, a senior at UF was featured in a video detailing her experiences as a leading member of the “system”, a secret organization that helps Greek affiliated students move up in student government and influences actions taken by it.
The “system” is connected to the Florida Blue Key, a prestigious leadership honorary group that operates as a secret society that helps direct student government from the shadows, according to some students.
The UF student newspapers published a detailed expose into the way Florida Blue Key operates in 2012.
“For students aspiring to hold public office one day, the path seems simple.
Go to UF. Get involved in Student Government. Get tapped to join Florida Blue Key. Make the right connections.
Even students who have no taste for politics yearn to join the prestigious honor society that boasts alumni like former senator and Gov. Bob Graham and current U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.”
According to Not My System, the group that published Philipp’s video on Facebook, “the system” is made up of three different blocs: a political bloc, social bloc, and third bloc.
“Each is led by a bloc leader that represents the interests of various Greek organizations, communicated to them through their house leaders,” Not My System explains on its FB page. “Through massive Greek mobilization and voter suppression, the System has been able to control Student Government at the University of Florida for decades. This System is damaging to everyone involved except for its elite. Students are not given the opportunity to pursue positions based on their merit, but rather must rest on their laurels.”
Despite attempts to expose the “system” in recent years, many have still denied its very existence.
But Philipp’s video could prove to be an important moment at UF.
This all comes on the eve of student government elections taking place this week in Gainesville, with the next Student Body President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and 50 senators up for election.
The “system” has drawn comparisons to “The Machine” at the University of Alabama and other secret student organizations that sometimes try to influence college politics.
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-A meeting between a North Miami City Councilman and a high ranking FIU official was canceled after the university requested that lawyers be present to prevent “misunderstandings” between the two sides.
-Councilman Scott Galvin and FIU Vice President for Government Affairs Michelle Palacio planned to meet at Galvin’s work office in Overtown to discuss the Arch Creek East Environment Preserve situation.
-Palacio canceled the meeting in a email to Galvin on late Tuesday night.
From Palacio’s email to Galvin:
“…you have stated publicly that you are exploring legal options against FIU. To avoid any further misunderstandings, I would like to postpone tomorrow’s meeting and ask that it be rescheduled to a future date, in City Hall, and that the City Manager, the City Attorney and an FIU attorney attend as well. As always, we’ll be glad to meet with you and your fellow City officials.”
-Galvin said during a protest last Saturday that North Miami was actively at looking at legal remedies to stop FIU from building a road through the preserve.
-Galvin told RISE NEWS that he thought the meeting was going to be an informal way to air out differences between the city and FIU. Now, he doesn’t think the meeting will happen.
Galvin also told RISE NEWS:
“…having attorneys present turns it into a deposition and ruins much chance for progress. Putting a caveat like that on a meeting probably means it won’t happen. Even our respective attorneys would likely advise we not attend it.”
-Galvin has been the most vocal city leader in opposition to FIU’s plan to reopen a road through the preserve.
-FIU claims that the road, which will open a second entrance to their North Campus via 135th St, is needed for student safety.
–The city of North Miami has opposed the plan for years because they say it would damage the preserve.
–FIU spokesperson Maydel Santana said that the university intends to meet with the appropriate North Miami city officials and “will reach out to the residents at the appropriate time.”
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University administrators are often criticized for not speaking up about issues that their students care about. But that is certainly not the case at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB).
There, university president Jay A. Perman has taken a forceful stance against President Donald Trump’s anti-science agenda.
In an email to the entire university community, Perman launched into the Trump administration’s “assault on science”.
UMB is a collection of graduate degree offering institutions including a world renowned School of Medicine.
Perman wrote the email in anticipation of the March for Science that will be taking place this weekend on April 22.
“The assault on science comes not only in the form of draconian budget cuts, but in ways meant to politicize science or intimidate those who undertake it,” Perman wrote. “The administration has issued gag orders on science agencies engaging in unsanctioned speech and sent letters to agency heads ordering that they identify scientists working on climate research. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump endorsed theories that have no basis in science — for instance, that vaccines are linked to autism or that climate change is a hoax.”
Maggie Davis, a law and policy analyst for the Center for Health and Homeland Security at UMB is supportive of Perman’s aggressive stance.
“I think it is an appropriate critique of budget priorities of the new administration, especially considering the hostility we have seen to researchers and scientists that work for agencies like NOAA and the EPA,” Davis said. “President Perman’s statement was clearly aimed at the policies promoted by the new administration and not President Trump as an individual, which I think is the best approach to have to build stronger support for robust funding of scientific research.”
You really should read Perman’s entire letter. It is something else.
“To the UMB Community:
I know many of you are planning to join the hundreds of thousands of people expected to march this Saturday in Washington, D.C., to celebrate — and defend — science. I thank you for lending your voice and your advocacy to this movement because, without a doubt, science needs defending these days.
President Trump’s budget proposal cuts 31 percent from the Environmental Protection Agency, slashes the Department of Energy’s basic science research program, and zeros out a program that supports early-stage research into technologies that could reduce our national dependence on fossil fuels. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which spends $32 billion a year on biomedical research — most of which goes to universities and medical schools across this country — would see a nearly 20 percent cut, bringing the agency’s budget to its lowest level in 15 years. By no means is it only science under attack: The president’s proposed budget eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The assault on science comes not only in the form of draconian budget cuts, but in ways meant to politicize science or intimidate those who undertake it. The administration has issued gag orders on science agencies engaging in unsanctioned speech and sent letters to agency heads ordering that they identify scientists working on climate research. As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump endorsed theories that have no basis in science — for instance, that vaccines are linked to autism or that climate change is a hoax.
And so I stand with those who will march this weekend to defend science and the scientific method. It is the scientific method that teaches us how to ask questions, form hypotheses, and then — critically — test those hypotheses with rigorous and replicable experiments. It is this method that protects us against specious theories and unproved (and unprovable) “facts.”
As a physician, I know that it is because of science that diseases that were once widespread and incurable are now — within my own lifetime — eradicated or treatable. This is the science that some in Congress and in the White House want to cut, attempting to persuade the American people that the basic research undertaken in labs across this country doesn’t affect them. But it does, and powerfully. Every modern medical advancement that has saved patients in a physician’s care and relieved their loved ones of grief had its origins in the research lab.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, himself a physician, defended President Trump’s proposed $6 billion cut to the NIH budget by suggesting that these cuts would be carved out of the overhead costs that universities like ours incur in doing research — costs such as operating and maintaining the facilities in which the research is conducted. However, as any businessperson knows, this overhead isn’t frivolous. It’s exactly what enables our people to keep doing the research that builds the science that ultimately saves and enriches lives. And I propose that it is precisely these kinds of efforts that many Americans want their tax dollars to support.
UMB is educating the next generation of health care practitioners, scientists, researchers, and policy experts, the people who will one day solve the greatest challenges of human health and well-being. I take this responsibility to train tomorrow’s problem-solvers seriously, and I support all of you in your fight to preserve smart and humane science policy and investment.
The budget priorities of this administration do not reflect the America I know, an America strengthened by its science and scientists, by investments made in research that protects its people, advances its interests, and enlarges global cooperation. The shortsightedness we’ve seen over the last three months undoubtedly threatens science, but science will prevail. It always does.
Jay A. Perman, MD
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
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