A nearly three-hour long Student Senate meeting Nov. 8 was punctuated by debates over amendments and Student Body President Lauren Lemasters’ first appearance in front of the legislative body this Fall.
Lemasters’ appearance follows the Change Caucus’ submission of a resolution to impeach her for voting in favor of Sen. Ben Sasse for UF president. The legislation claims Lemasters lost the confidence of fellow elected officials — a parameter of her duties as president — and therefore conducted malfeasance.
During her report, Lemasters contested the resolution’s language, saying malfeasance wasn’t a correct analysis of her vote for Sasse.
“My role is not to always agree or acquiesce to the Senate, but to bring my perspective to the overall governing body,” Lemasters said.
Lemasters didn’t take questions, as she would be standing trial at a later date if the impeachment resolution passes, she said.
Change defended its language, citing Lemasters’ condemnation by the Senate, Vice President Daniel Badell and Treasurer Sierra Kantamneni as evidence of her loss of trust.
Minority Caucus Leader Faith Corbett (Change-District C) said Lemasters lost, at very least, the confidence of the Change Caucus.
Another stipulation in the impeachment resolution stated Lemasters conducted malfeasance by repeating behavior deemed wrongful by voting yes on Sasse twice, which created more grounds for her impeachment.
“I think that her willingness to repeat something so disappointing and appalling just shows that she will more than likely do it again,” Corbett said.
To go forward with impeachment, Change must submit the impeachment resolution to the Judiciary Committee by Friday for it to be read, amended and approved or rejected Sunday.
Corbett’s concerned about the likelihood of the legislation getting through Judiciary, she said, based on other pieces of Change legislation that haven’t been approved by the committee, which is entirely Gator-affiliated.
Deputy Minority Caucus leader Gabriela Montes (Change-Liberal Arts and Sciences) has some hope but is also skeptical, she said.
“Condemnation is one thing,” Montes said. “Impeaching is an entirely different process with entirely different implications for everyone involved. The ball is in their court at this point.”
Lemasters’ concern with the resolution’s language is shared by other members of Student Government. Rather than malfeasance, the impeachment should be on the grounds of nonfeasance — which Black’s law dictionary calls the failure to do one’s job in the first place — an SG representative told The Alligator.
If approved by Judiciary, the final version of the resolution will be heard on the Senate floor Nov. 15. Two-thirds of Spring senators — a wide majority of whom are Gator-affiliated — must vote yes on the resolution for Lemasters to be suspended from office and face trial.
The Senate also passed a resolution condemning the rise in antisemitism, a resolution commemorating November as Native American Heritage Month, a resolution recognizing first generation week and the first generation living-learning community, and a resolution supporting a food insecurity task force, among other resolutions, during the Nov. 8 meeting.
Certain amendments to the resolutions were highly debated.
Sen. Cassandra Urbenz (Change-Arts) reintroduced an amendment encouraging the university’s usage of land acknowledgements in the resolution commemorating Native American Heritage after it was removed from the legislation in Judiciary. The amendment failed in a majority standing vote.
An amendment to the first generation resolution adding the rest of the members on the first generation LLC task force to the resolution alongside Badell was also voted down.
Montes and Corbett were both disappointed in the amendments’ failure, they said.
Senate President Olivia Green (Gator-District A), who authored the first generation resolution, worked with Badell on the first generation cabinet to create first generation students’ week. She hopes the week will highlight both the sacrifices of first generation students and applaud them for their work, she said.
Contact Alissa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaGary1.
Alissa Gary is a second-year journalism major who's covering K-12 education for The Alligator. She has previously reported on student government and university administration. Aside from writing, she likes to take care of her plants and play (and usually win) the New York Times sudoku puzzle.