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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

UF Student Senate President, senators disagree with Lauren Lemasters on Sasse approval

Some senators say she didn’t listen to student body

<p>Senate President Olivia Green (Gator-District A) speaks during the Senate meeting Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022. </p>

Senate President Olivia Green (Gator-District A) speaks during the Senate meeting Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

Several student senators expressed disappointment with Student Body President Lauren Lemasters for voting to approve Sen. Ben Sasse as UF’s 13th president during their Tuesday Student Senate meeting.

Lemasters, who sits on the UF Board of Trustees, held one of 13 votes to approve Sasse. The board unanimously approved Sasse Tuesday afternoon, and he awaits approval by the Florida Board of Governors before formally becoming president-elect.

Lemasters wasn’t present at the Senate meeting, nor was a representative on her behalf.

During her report, Senate President Olivia Green (Gator-District A) said both she and the student body disagreed with Lemasters’ decision, and she was disappointed in Lemasters’ choice. 

“The students made their opinions on the nomination very clear and these opinions were disregarded today,” Green said. “To the students we are charged with representing, I can say with certainty we see you, we hear you and we will continue to amplify student voices as one united Senate.”

Senate unanimously passed a resolution Oct. 18 condemning Lemasters for nominating Sasse as the sole finalist as part of the presidential search committee. In the resolution, Senate asked Lemasters to vote “no” on his approval following a series of student protests against him.

Lemasters said she was still undecided on the Sasse vote Oct. 27, when a group of students attended her office hours to ask her to vote against him.

At least nine public comments during the Senate meeting included condemnations of Lemasters for voting yes despite calls for her not to.

Minority Party Leader Faith Corbett (Change-District C) said that by voting yes, Lemasters didn’t adequately listen to or represent the student body as their president. 

“What Lemasters did was hear students,” Corbett said. “She didn't listen. Because if she listened, I would not have to be in a position where I reconsider the quality of our student body president.”

Senator Mohammed Faisal (Change-District D) said he doesn’t expect Sasse to maintain UF’s top five ranking. He blames Lemasters for voting for him and causing more harm to the university than good, he said.

“Today, you have failed us,” he said, addressing Lemasters. “You failed your students and you have failed all faculty and future students at the University of Florida.”

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Alissa Gary

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.

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