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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Tuesday nights looked a little different last semester.

Long and controversial meetings that marked the Senate chamber slowly became brief virtual meetings, as ideological debate among senators decreases every week. 

Throughout Spring, Senate passed a total of 19 bills — 11 of which were resolutions, which by definition are an expression of the Senate’s sentiments on behalf of the Student Body. No bills enabling direct change were passed.

Here’s what happened in Student Government this Spring:

Traffic Safety Bills

In response to car accidents on University Avenue killing three faculty members and students, Senate passed three resolutions to address the issue.

The first commemorated the lives of Margaret Paxton and Sophia Lambert. The other two requested the State of Florida to take measures addressing traffic safety in and around campus and advocated for the implementation of a school zone speed limit and flashing traffic beacons on University Avenue, from Northwest 13th Street to Gale Lemerand Drive. 

The resolutions did not specify how the proposed changes would take place, as some went against Florida State Statutes specifying school zones can only be implemented around K-12 school buildings and enforced 30 minutes before and after school.

Senate did not pass any further legislation to address traffic safety on campus.

Meanwhile, the executive branch worked to advocate for traffic safety by discussing improved measures with university and state officials. Former Student Body President Trevor Pope met with local and state officials in a Tallahassee conference in February to address the issue.

Gator Party seized second executive ticket and supermajority in Senate

Gator Party won 46 out of the 50 seats up for election in Spring, resulting in a supermajority in Senate with 79 Gator Senators. 

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This year’s Spring elections had a potential of a five-party breakdown, with Gator, Change, Progressive, Union and Keg parties having initial intentions to run for the executive ticket.

After Union and Change merged into one, the only candidates for the executive ticket were from Gator, Change and Keg, which did not run for any Senate seats.

With a centralized focus on traffic safety and increased student involvement in SG projects, Gator Party won the executive ticket for the second time with Cooper Brown, Faith Maniti and Giovanna Mompremier as Student Body president, vice-president and treasurer, respectively. 

Events

With COVID measures still in place, Accent Speakers Bureau virtually hosted seven guests through Zoom-moderated conversations and Q&A sessions. The student-funded organization runs on a budget of $500,000 a year.

Spring Accent speakers consisted of entertainment celebrities who brought smiles to UF students during stressful pandemic times. Some of these celebrities include YouTubers David Dobrik, Cody Ko and Noel Miller, and actresses Tiffany Haddish and Tabitha Brown. 

Other guest speakers included Dave Portnoy and Guy Fieri. Portnoy’s appearance received mixed feedback from some students who weren’t comfortable with his previous misogynistic and racist comments.

On March 26, more than 1,000 students attended UF’s first in-person event since the COVID-19 shut down last year, with live-music performed by indie bands Mt. Joy and Flipturn. The event was originally planned to host the band COIN, but after the band had to reschedule the show to a later date, Flipturn replaced the performance. 

Held by Student Government Productions, which is also funded by student fees, the event was free for all UF students.

Social distancing measures and mask requirements were enforced throughout the entire event, with enclosed pods allowing up to six students to enjoy the show together.


Contact Carolina Ilvento or Grace Stroler at cilvento@alligator.org or gstoler@alligator.org. Follow them on Twitter @CarolinaIlvento or @GraceStoler.

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Carolina Ilvento

Carolina is a second-year journalism major with a minor in sustainability. In the past, she covered stories and events for WUFT, and she is now reporting on Student Government for The Alligator. Carolina loves to do yoga and go to the beach whenever she isn't writing.


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