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Monday, June 17, 2024

Student Government leadership addresses Sasse vote, funding for student organizations

Initiatives announced for upcoming Fall, Spring semesters

<p>Student Body President Lauren Lemasters addresses the audience in the University Auditorium at the State of the Campus Address Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.  </p>

Student Body President Lauren Lemasters addresses the audience in the University Auditorium at the State of the Campus Address Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

The student body executive branch stood as a united front — despite previous condemnations against Student Body President Lauren Lemasters — during the state of the campus address.

Seven months into their terms, Student Government executive leaders gathered to brief the student body on the state of the campus Nov. 14. The address featured speeches from Student Body President Lauren Lemasters, Vice President Daniel Badell, Treasurer Sierra Kantamneni and other executive leadership. 

Only a handful of non-SG affiliated students were among the audience.

Kantamneni opened the address by outlining the treasury’s initiatives to clarify the student organization funding process, which has drawn concern due to perceived budget cuts after organization reclassification earlier this semester. 

“From hundreds of SAR approvals, to translated finance trainings, to a step-by-step explanation of the budget process to whoever needs it, there’s no typical day in the office of the treasurer,” Kantamneni said in the speech. “And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Lemasters, whose impeachment resolution was filed and later struck down earlier this month, took the stage next, hosting the rest of the address. She began her speech by addressing the elephant in the room: her vote as a member of the Board of Trustees to approve Ben Sasse as the next UF president.

Lemasters believes in Sasse’s ability to adequately serve the university despite past statements against the LGBTQ community based on private and public interviews with Sasse, she said.

“I plan to hold him accountable for his promises and call him out if he falls short,” Lemasters said.

Lemasters apologized to those she hurt with her decision as well, and she recognized some students would remain disappointed in her despite reassurances she made the right choice.

“I ran for student body president because I care deeply about this university and its future for all of our students,” Lemasters said. “I’ve never wavered from that commitment.”

Her message remained consistent with speeches she made after calls for impeachment to the Student Senate Nov. 8 and statements to The Alligator in response to condemnations by other SG leaders.

Neither Kantamneni nor Badell directly addressed their statements speaking out on Lemasters’ Sasse vote. 

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Lemasters also touched on various past and future executive initiatives throughout the rest of the address.

She vowed her administration would find a way to extend library hours — an issue that has followed SG for several semesters and headlined Change Party’s Fall 2022 platform — by the end of her term. Lemasters looks forward to working with Provost Joe Glover and Dean of University Libraries Judith Russell to achieve this goal, she said.

Badell, joined by two members of the cabinet, announced a partnership with libraries to provide free digital exam study resources, another partnership with GatorWell to provide free HIV testing kits and a first-year leadership conference in the Spring.

Badell was most excited for a Coalescence Gala scheduled for Nov. 30 he said, which will bring together various leaders and organizations on campus together to discuss LGBTQ history and solutions, as well as an open mic night in the days following.

Other appearances at the address included chair of Nightlife Navigators Hagen Turner, whose efforts to improve nighttime campus safety included discounted Lyft rides and SNAP vans; senior class president Blake Robinson, who showed a video looking back on beginning of the semester welcome events; and Big Event chairs Anna Welch and Seth Stein, who announced the charity’s official date as March 4.

Contact Alissa Gary at Follow her on Twitter at @AlissaGary1.

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Alissa Gary

Alissa is a sophomore journalism major and University Editor at The Alligator. She has previously covered student government, university administration and K-12 education. In her free time, she enjoys showing photos of her cats to strangers.

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