UF Student Government, according to its website, acts as “a direct liaison between the university and its students.” But what does that really mean?
SG controls more than $22 million and operates in three branches, much like the U.S. government: executive, legislative and judicial.
The executive branch is led by Student Body President Lauren Lemasters, who oversees 16 agencies and four cabinets — Diversity, Student Life, Leadership and Service and Transition — that influence and organize student experiences on and off campus.
The legislative branch is made up of a unicameral Senate with a maximum of 100 members. Senators are elected in Fall or Spring and represent either their majors, class standing or housing areas on and off campus. Its public meetings are held Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the Senate Chambers of the Reitz Union. Senate passes legislation including the Student Activities and Service Fee budget, funded by over $22 million in student tuition and fees, during the Summer.
The judicial branch includes the UF SG Supreme Court and elections commissions, made up of UF law students. Ryan Wiele serves as Chief Justice alongside three other justices. The SG Supreme Court handles cases brought by students based on SG rules and codes.
Most SG officers have official email addresses and office hours open to students available on the UF SG website.
Elections occur during the Fall and Spring, but students can still get involved with SG during Summer. The executive and legislative branches have vacancies, and the positions are available to all students taking summer classes.
Summer replacement seats last only until the end of the semester. Evan Asuncion, who finished his Summer A replacement for District D, authored two pieces of legislation — one resolution celebrating 50 years of UF women’s athletics and another advocating for more composting stations around campus. The contained introduction allowed him to experience student government in action for the first time over a few short weeks.
In SG Senate, these seats will open for applications Tuesday:
District C (Summer B)
Graduate & Family Housing
Senator Ashley Shakib was confirmed into her permanent Sophomore seat June 14 and went through the application and interview process earlier this month.
“The best thing to do is put yourself out there,” Shakib said. “We all have something unique to offer.”
She knew she wanted to get involved in SG and sent in an application to see what would happen. After her application, she attended an in-person interview with the Replacement & Agenda Committee, which recommends replacements to Senate. Within two days, Shakib received news she’d been recommended for the open seat. She was confirmed by Senate at its next meeting.
“Everyone is so willing to help you find your way,” she said. “It’s been a really positive experience for me so far.”
Senate President Elizabeth Hartzog and Senate President Pro-Tempore Olivia Green, who both serve on the Replacement and Agenda Committee, said new students who want to give back to the university and represent its population of more than 50,000 students would benefit from joining Senate.
“One of the main pieces of advice we would give to incoming students who want to get involved, specifically within student government, is to not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone,” Hartzog and Green wrote in a joint statement to the Alligator.
Sandra McDonald is a third-year journalism major and the Student Government reporter for the University Desk. This is her first semester at the Alligator. When she's not reporting, she's probably reading fantasy novels and listening to Taylor Swift.