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Saturday, April 20, 2024

About 70 students packed into a bus and headed to Tallahassee on Tuesday to speak with state lawmakers about issues important to the university.

The students, along with administrators and alumni, met with legislators and discussed everything from including textbooks in Sales Tax Relief Day to preventing cuts in faculty benefits.

“We literally invaded the capital,” said UF Student Body President Ashton Charles.

Members of Florida Blue Key, the service and leadership organization that hosts events such as Gator Growl and Homecoming, participated as part of Gator Day, an annual event put on for students to meet and network with state officials.

“It’s just a really incredible event to be able to go up there and be able to show the influence and importance of the University of Florida,” Charles said.

Students met with leaders such as Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

Charles said she appreciated the opportunity to meet with state leaders and talk about issues that are important to students, such as preserving Bright Futures funds and protecting faculty benefits to keep professors competitive with those at other universities.

“It just epitomizes that having a presence there, a physical presence there, is really crucial to demonstrate the needs of the University of Florida,” she said.

Craig Thompson, president of Florida Blue Key, said the organization worked closely with Gators for Higher Education, the UF Alumni Association and UF President Bernie Machen’s office to schedule speakers and set up a luncheon.

Thompson said the day gave lawmakers a glimpse of the quality of students graduating from UF.

“The day provided an opportunity for the university and its students to show the leadership of Florida the type of students the university is developing and will continue to develop for years to come,” he said.

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