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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Student Government senators approved two resolutions condemning antisemitism and political encroachment and a new Change Caucus minority party leader was appointed during the Feb. 7 meeting’s 29 minutes.

Senate President Olivia Green called the meeting to order at 7:33 p.m. with 67 senators present. It lasted until 8:02 p.m.

Both resolutions on the docket passed: the first advocated for protections against political encroachment on Florida’s education system, considering the recent anti-woke legislation implemented and proposed by the DeSantis administration. 

The second resolution condemned the on-campus acts of antisemitism on Feb. 1 and 2 when antisemitic chalk markings were scrawled on campus and antisemitic influencers visited Plaza of the Americas. 

Senators also approved the motion to appoint former Deputy Minority Party Leader Gabriela Montes as the new minority party leader after former Minority Party Leader Faith Corbett stepped down from her role Sunday. Sen. Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) was appointed as deputy minority party leader.

Montes said she is thrilled to begin her new leadership role and hopes to push forward Change's momentum as the election season unfolds.

"I'm just really excited to see what our senators accomplish and to hopefully see our caucus grow soon," Montes said. 

Corbett, who was announced as Change Party’s student body president candidate Tuesday, has served as Change's minority party leader since Summer 2022. 

She’s stepping down to create a sustainable transition of leadership, Corbett said. She also wants to empower other students to take on SG leadership positions. 

“I decided to step down the moment I was asked by Change if I would run for student body president,” Corbett said after the meeting. “As one door opens, sometimes it pulls the one behind you closed.”

While she will continue to advise her caucus, she said she’s sure Montes is ready to tackle the role. 

During announcements, Sen. Mara Vaknin (Gator-District A), who is Jewish, shared her gratitude regarding the bipartisan collaboration in passing the resolution condemning antisemitism on campus. 

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“Sadly, there have been a lot of instances of antisemitism during this school year,” she said. “I’m really happy that as student leaders, we are able to continue protecting the Jewish community on our campus because they make up so much of our student body.”

Sen. Grace Shoemaker (Change-Engineering) spoke during public comment about the importance of the resolution addressing political encroachment that was later approved. 

She listed legislation from the DeSantis administration, including the “Don't Say Gay” bill and Individual Freedom Act, as some of the political encroachment efforts impacting academic freedom statewide. 

“Across the United States, academic freedom is under attack but nowhere more so than in Florida,” she said. “Teachers I have spoken to at UF are scared.”

Shoemaker encouraged senators to educate themselves and talk to the communities affected by the DeSantis administration’s anti-woke legislation. 

Senators approved Alexander Benashvili for the open Engineering Senate seat and Matthew Reich for the open seat on the Rules and Ethics committee. 

Senate meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Senate Chambers in the Reitz Union. The meetings are open to the general public. 

Contact Amanda at afriedman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @amandasfriedman.

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Amanda Friedman

Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande. 


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