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Monday, April 15, 2024

Student body president clears the record on nominee investigation

Supervisor of elections nominee was investigated by a student for attending a conference

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The July 18 Senate meeting brought forth concerns about the recent Southeastern Exchange Conference, which took place at the University of Mississippi from July 13 to July 16. 

Senate President Oscar Santiago Perez (Change-District D) called the July 18 meeting to order at 7:15 p.m. — with 64 senators present — and adjourned at 11 p.m. due to the Reitz Union closing. 

On July 16, 21-year-old UF biomedical engineering student Ronin Lupien announced on the Understand UFSG Instagram account he is investigating supervisor of elections nominee Ethan Halle, who served as the 2022-2023 supervisor of elections.

The supervisor of elections officiates and oversees SG elections, one of the largest student-run elections in the country.

Lupien posted he had video evidence to suggest Halle was in attendance at the SEC Exchange conference with the executive branch of Student Government — suggesting this brought forth concerns of ‘potential abuse of public trust because Halle is a nominee.’ 

In an email Lupien sent to Majority Party Leader Simone Liang (Change-CLAS) and Minority Party Leader Bronson Allemand (Gator-District A), Lupien noted his concerns with Halle’s attendance. 

“An individual who is essentially a regular student may be getting SG subsidized travel for a role that the Senate may choose to never approve him for,” Lupien wrote. 

In the email chain between Allemand, Lupien and Liang, Liang felt disappointed and appalled at Halle's attendance at this year's SEC Exchange, as well as Green's invitation to him prior to the Senate's approval of his nomination.

Liang alleged during that Friday's ad-hoc apportionment meeting Gator Party Leader Bronson Allemand had also been in attendance at the SEC exchange.

Allemand was in Gainesville during the duration of the event, he said. Lupien affirms he was not intending to investigate Allemand, and that was brought up under Liang’s own volition. 

“At no time in the past was I considered nor extended an invitation to attend the conference, and any statement saying the opposite is untrue and incorrect,” Allemand wrote. “I would like to encourage Majority Party Leader Liang to rescind this section of her statement due to its inherent fallacy as well as encourage research prior to submitting baseless claims.”

Several Gator party-affiliated Senators approved of supporting Halle as the SoE nominee. Change disagreed, condemning Halle for having accepted the invitation to SEC and deeming it a ‘conflict of interest.’

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UF Student Body President Olivia Green could not make it to the July 18 Senate meeting, and executive press secretary Elizabeth Stokes read her report, where Green addressed the investigation.

“I wanted to touch on the recent backlash, angry emails, and invasion of privacy from both external and internal senate bodies regarding the SEC Exchange,” Green wrote. “Under my powers as Student Body President, I have the authority to choose who attends the annual conference.” 

Green also wrote how she already submitted Halle as one of the ultimate attendees of the conference, and she and SG adviser James Tyger took into consideration how Halle already served as the SoE for two full cycles.  

Green ended her report with some advice to the Senate body. 

“You cannot continue to bash each other with extraneous political threats in an effort to feel powerful.” Green wrote. “To complain and send angry emails because a member of your party was not invited to go to a conference that they did not even express interest to me that they want to go on is both immature and disrespectful.” 

Green hopes her report serves as a learning lesson and a time for reflection on what senators’ true goals are and hopes the presentation clears up any confusion.

Contact Vivienne at vserret@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret.

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Vivienne Serret

Vivienne Serret is a UF journalism and criminology senior, reporting for The Alligator's university desk as the student government reporter and managing editor for The Florida Political Review. She loves debating, lifting at the gym and singing.


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