Junior, Journalism major
Every semester, UF students put democracy in action – they vote for their student government.
Of the 50 senators elected this fall to represent each student based on their living areas, only one was an independent candidate.
While the other 49 seats belong to the Swamp Party, Preston Jones will be representing the Hume area as an independent for the school year.
“I believe the people of Hume deserve a person who can represent their interests and speak for the entirety of the population of Hume, which is really diverse and really filled with great people with great ideas,” said Jones, an 18-year-old civil engineering freshman.
Jones defeated Swamp Party candidate Rachel Laky with 61 percent of the vote. He won the sole Hume area seat with 175 votes compared to Laky’s 108.
Jones didn’t have previous experience with student government but wanted to get involved after attending H-Camp.
“I didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into,” Jones said.
For every credit a student takes, $18.19 of the tuition cost goes toward Student Government. This Activity and Service Fee pays for things like Library West’s all night hours, Student Rec’s classes and amenities, and club funding. The 100 elected senators are responsible for deciding how much money goes where and for what.
This fall’s election saw 6,733 students cast their ballot, the lowest voter turnout in recent history. On a steady decline in past semesters, this made up less than 14 percent of UF’s 49, 785 students, according to the UF admissions office.
In contrast, almost half of Hume area students voted.
Last Spring, the Students Party disbanded, leaving Swamp as the only organized party to vote for.
Having an independent option really got the Hume students involved, Jones said. He thinks independent candidates could provide better ideas for the entire student body.
While Swamp Party may run the school effectively, Jones said he doesn’t think they accurately represent the diverse voices of the student body.
“Not everyone thinks the same way as Swamp Party, and not everyone has the same ideas as Swamp Party does,” he said.
Jones said that his mission is to make Hume students more aware of student government and how it can help them. When people can relate to their government, there’s greater participation.
“I connected with the spirit of those in Hume because they’re willing to stand up and be independent,” he said.
Jones is looking forward to becoming even more involved. He wants to write his own legislature and work with different subcommittees.
“They’re going to expect me not just to disappear, and they’ll expect me to remain involved,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
“I don’t want to disappear, and I won’t disappear,” Jones said. “Because Hume students have ideas and can have an impact.”