UF Student Government senators passed a resolution condemning the state bills attacking diversity, equity and inclusion, and higher education but failed to approve replacement senators during the four-hour-long meeting May 23.
Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) called the meeting to order at 7:04 p.m. — with 62 senators present — and ended at 11 p.m. due to the Reitz Union closing.
The items on the meeting’s agenda included the approval of a resolution condemning the passage of Florida Senate Bill 266 and the previous attempts of House Bill 999 and its attacks on DEI and the freedoms of higher education in Florida.
The second item was the approval of the Budget and Appropriations Criteria of Review Act, which will undergo a second reading.
Both items passed.
Along with the two resolutions, senators were supposed to elect the sophomore summer replacement and permanent senators.
Both SG parties faced a back-and-forth between approving and objecting to nominees, with only one replacement having been approved.
SG Senate approved one nominee, failed seven and tabled five. The approved replacement senator for District-A, Jeff John, does not have a party affiliation as of May 23.
UF Student Body President Olivia Green expressed her frustrations with the Senate after it failed to come together to approve nominees.
Green spent 22 hours interviewing 231 applicants because she knew she was going to come in front of the senate to ensure students had an opportunity not ruined by politics, she said.
“I’m not trying to come with any aggression or anger, but I am angry,” Green said. “As [president] I have a duty to uphold what students are seeing in student government, and if we continue to filibuster these nominations, that’s not helping students.”
Green highlighted the student nominees for ACCENT and ACTION SG who were not present for the meeting in her final speech — Sam Hendler and Phoebe Funai.
Officers and senate nominees talked about their plans for action within student government and expressed their concerns during the public comment section of the agenda.
Green emphasized throughout public comment she has seen nothing short of corruption since Change Party’s majority in the senate, she said
“I know that you guys are playing games and think this is really funny,” Green said. “But it’s actually really concerning to me.”
Senator Raj Mia (Change-CALS) pointed out to Green that this isn’t the first time there’s been a split senate, he said.
“Checks and balances is here, we’re just vetting all the nominees,” Mia said. “That’s the correct record of that, have a nice day.”
Santiago Perez left the meeting believing the behavior and demeanor of the student body president were uncharacteristic and unbecoming, they said.
“I think that the student body president was very aggressive towards many of the senators,” they said. “Especially considering that this was pretty much [many] of their first meetings.”
Contact Vivienne at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret.
Vivienne Serret is a UF journalism and criminology senior, reporting for The Alligator's university desk as a student government reporter and managing editor for The Florida Political Review. You can find her at the Levin College of Law with her mock trial team.