Hello, Gators! Time has flown by since my last article, but I’m so happy to be back.
2015 was an incredible year for UF. We not only inaugurated our 12th president of UF, but we also become SEC East Champions! And now, it’s the Spring semester! If you’re like me, a graduating senior, you’re probably a little stressed that graduation is upon you, but you’re happy to reflect on your journey as a Gator.
For the first column of the new year, I want to take the opportunity to share a few of the highlights from Student Government so far. Since we last talked, I addressed the Student Body at the 2015 State of the Campus address and discussed the actions the executive branch has taken since we’ve been in office. Kevin, Nick and I were extremely excited to share all of our work that we’ve done. We really wanted to show how we are working to keep our promise of providing an accessible and beneficial administration for our fellow UF students.
Since taking office last April, we have continued our commitment to serving students, increasing diversity as well as transparency and being approachable leaders. Even in light of the upcoming election season, we will work toward these goals for SG for the remainder of our term.
My administration has also made diversity a priority. We not only created a new SG position within the council of advisers for diversity affairs, but that adviser has also proved instrumental in ensuring all executive branch officials receive comprehensive diversity training in collaboration with UF’s Multicultural and Diversity Affairs department.
In November, SG External Affairs hosted its first Week of Civic Engagement. Throughout the week, we facilitated events to help students learn about how their government works at the local, state and federal levels, as well as how they can get involved. In coordination with Accent Speakers Bureau, we also brought Al Sharpton and Ray Kelly to discuss recent issues in our society. As SG, we feel it is our responsibility to provide UF students with the opportunity to learn as much about the political process as possible, helping to foster Gators to mature into informed members of a national community.
In December, we took on an incredibly important issue on our campus in a new way by hosting the first Mental Health Awareness Week. In the recent Healthy Gators Report, we found that anxiety, depression, panic disorders, disordered eating, suicide ideation, self-injury ideation, sleeping abnormalities and stress are some of the most prevalent mental health issues students face at UF.
In light of the upcoming election cycle, we hope to help increase access to SG elections through online voting and other methods of improved transparency. I created a Remote Online Voting Task Force that is looking at how other schools in Florida and the SEC have implemented their online voting systems to help us develop an efficient system here.
Additionally, as the Spring semester starts to gear up, we are starting off strong with a series of events throughout the season. Next Monday, Accent Speaker’s Bureau partners with the Jewish Student Union to bring Paul Rudd to campus for a free, public show at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. In the continued spirit of transparency, SG and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service will be hosting the elections debate Feb. 8, which gives students the opportunity to hear from both parties directly about the issues facing students.
For the new year, I am happy to be continuing this column and keeping my fellow students, faculty, staff and community informed about SG happenings.
As always, thank you for allowing me to continue to serve you.
Joselin Padron-Rasines is the UF Student Body president. Her column appears monthly.