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Monday, January 30, 2023

Despite a Monday incident where officers of the University Police Department Tasered and arrested a UF student during a speech by Sen. John Kerry, Student Government's speakers bureau will continue to operate normally, an SG official said Tuesday.

Steven Blank, Accent chairman, said he didn't think the incident warranted any major changes in Accent's security policy.

"In 40 years, we've never had this sort of situation," Blank said. "We have been doing the same thing for a very long time, and we will continue to do it."

Andrew Meyer, a telecommunication senior, was arrested and Tasered by UPD officers during a question-and-answer session with Kerry, a Democrat who represents Massachusetts and a former presidential candidate.

Police moved in after Blank ordered Meyer's microphone to be cut off when Meyer used profanity.

"We make it clear that any profanity and vulgarity by anyone asking questions will result in a cutting off of the mike," Blank said.

Police are typically present to maintain a professional atmosphere when a prominent figure speaks, Blank said, but he declined to comment on whether he thought the use of a Taser was necessary.

"The police are there with the general understanding that they are there to keep order," he said. "They acted independently of Accent."

He also declined to offer his personal reaction to the incident, only saying, "It was a wonderful speech on behalf of Senator Kerry."

Blank said police would still be present at speeches for prominent Accent speakers in the future.

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