The University Auditorium was packed with senators, students and UF administration Tuesday evening as Student Body President Cooper Brown gave the State of the Campus Address.
The annual address allows SG’s executive branch to list their accomplishments of the semester and what is to come. Tuesday’s address was the first in-person address since 2019, as SG held the most recent address online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brown was elected as student body president in the Spring, after he ran with a campaign that focused on expanding red parking spots near Norman Hall, lengthening hours at the Field and Fork Pantry and more safety measures on University Avenue following fatal crashes involving students.
One of his administration’s first projects was to transfer $1.55 million from the Student Government reserves account in the summer to the fiscal year budget, Brown said. The funds were meant to enhance the student experience through events.
Student Government Productions, ACCENT Speakers Bureau, student organizations and the SG cabinet all received boosts in funding through the transfer. Since then, SG spent more than $430,000 on a concert featuring BROCKHAMPTON, hosting author Emmanuel Acho, and comedians Brian Baumgartner and Oscar Nuñez.
SGP will announce more events, Brown said, although he did not mention when that would happen.
“This year will be about more than getting back to normal, it will be about making up for lost time,” he said during the speech.
Brown spoke on implementing 24-hour libraries, traffic safety, facility upgrades and other projects he plans on completing in the future. He and his team plan on giving Newell Hall a redesign and a furniture upgrade, doubling the size of the Southwest Recreation weight room and advocating for telehealth resources for the Counseling and Wellness Center.
Brown introduced Drew Goodwin, chair of Nightlife Navigators, to speak on their projects including the project “Three Weeks of Safety” which occurred at the beginning of the semester, Goodwin said. Each week focused on promoting pedestrian, traffic and biker safety,
Students should be able to access a licensed mental health counselor even if they cannot visit the CWC, especially when the wait times are too long or it’s the middle of the night, Brown said. He pledged to work with partners on a state and federal level to bring more access to students.
“Telehealth is not the future,” Brown said. “It's the present, and we need updated policies and priorities that reflect that reality.”
Additionally, Brown said that he and his team support the idea of 24-hour libraries, but believes the funding necessary to do so is not SG’s responsibility.
“The provost office, specifically [Dean] Judith Russell, has created a narrative that Student Government should be the ones paying for [24-hour libraries],” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Senator Oscar Santiago Perez (Change, District D) spoke during Senate public comment two weeks in a row urging senators to advocate for 24-hour libraries and is now working on a resolution to let UF administration know it's their job to fund the project.
“I really hope that President Brown can voice his support for the resolution I am writing and that he can use it to further that goal,” Santiago Perez wrote in an email. “I hope to work towards this goal as much as I can. Additionally, I am here to work with the President to make 24-hour libraries a reality.”
Contact Allessandra at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ainzinna.
Allessandra is a third-year journalism major with a minor in English. In the past, she has covered local musicians and the cannabis industry. She is now the Student Government reporter for The Alligator. Allessandra paints and plays guitar in her free time.