Despite not mentioning it while campaigning in Spring, Student Body President Smith Meyers told the audience at the State of the Campus Address that mental health has always been his first priority.
Meyers’ Tuesday night remarks came weeks after SG Senate, which is dominated by Meyers’ Impact Party, received backlash from students complaining about the lack of funding for the Counseling & Wellness Center. Impact Party’s platform in Spring, when Meyers ran for Student Body President, didn’t mention the CWC.
In the absence of more funding and resources, students wait weeks to receive an appointment, according to Alligator archives.
“Just because it wasn’t on my platform, doesn’t mean it wasn’t something I prioritized for my administration to work on,” Meyers said, adding he’s always been personally passionate about the issue.
At the address, Meyers said his administration accomplished securing permanent funding for eight additional counselors out of 12 planned hires.
UF’s Board of Trustees decided to hire 12 counselors after UF President Kent Fuchs told them in August the issue was pressing, according to Alligator archives.
Meyers said his administration helped secure the eight counselors’ funding because he’s been meeting with administration officials since he took office on April 19, including UF Vice President for Student Affairs David Parrott and UF President Kent Fuchs, to voice students’ concerns about lack of mental health professionals.
Meyers also addressed 24/7 study spaces. He said results from a recent survey about overnight study space hours, which he received last week, show students want more space. He said he will lobby the UF administration for more funding.
“I will personally commit to seeing this through prior to the conclusion of my term, and it will come at no additional cost to the Student Body,” he said.
In an effort to increase healthy eating options on campus, Meyers said Freshens will be replaced by Shake Smart, a smoothie restaurant where everything is under $6.
Meyers’ administration is also analyzing GPAs, graduation rates and retention rates from UF’s gym users to prove a correlation between healthy habits and academic success, he said. Meyers said he plans to use the data to lobby UF for a new health and wellness center, which would be located on 13th Street and feature an infirmary, a recreational gym and a space for CWC counselors.
Revel Lubin, the Student Body treasurer, said none of the administration’s plans would have been accomplished without Meyers’ leadership style. He said Meyers often recognized he didn’t have all the answers and asked others for help.
“His ability to stop and ask questions has really allowed us to accomplish some amazing goals and amazing things for this campus,” Lubin said.
Other points mentioned in the speech:
Simplified degree audit for upcoming Spring semester
Adding six rooms for ProctorU testing in Library West
Working with the University Athletic Association to bring larger containers of water for football games
Adding more crosswalks to Gale Lemerand Drive, work to make Beaty Towers crosswalk safer
Working to establish a laundry program that reduces costs for students on campus