Adding to the list of student government officials who have come out against Student Council President Lauren LeMasters, Student Council Vice President Daniel Badel on Wednesday blasted LeMasters for voting to make Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., the 13th president UF.
Badel respects and considers Lemasters a close friend, he said in statement posted Wednesday night on Instagram. But he couldn’t support her in voting for Sasse, which he felt went against the wishes of the student body, he said.
“As elected student representatives, we have a responsibility to represent the wants and needs of the student body,” he said. “This vote did the opposite.”
Both Lemasters and Badel told The Alligator they would provide further comment Thursday morning.
During the meeting, LeMasters said it will be an uphill battle for Sasse to regain the students’ trust.
“There is this hill of trust that you have to climb with many of our students,” LeMasters said at the meeting. “But what I look forward to – throughout my experience – is to see you willing to sit down and listen.”
LeMasters is the sole student representative on the Board of Trustees and cast one of the 13 votes to approve Sasse. In the past, students during office hours and the student senate had asked her to vote against Sasse. Trustees unanimously approved Sasse on Nov. 1.
Badel also cited Sasse’s anti-LGBTQ statements as a reason not to support him. As the first openly gay elected member of the student government executive, Badel felt a responsibility to speak out against Sasse, he said.
During his confirmation interview, Sass said he would take a vow of “political celibacy” to remain impartial during his presidency. He is also open to speaking with members of the LGBTQ community and meeting with the existing LGBTQ Presidential Advisory Committee, he said.
But for Bodell and other students, LeMasters’ endorsement still shows a lack of consideration of student opinion.
“This is 2022, not 1922,” Badel said in a statement, referring to Sasse. “Homophobia is not a ‘political opinion’, it is discrimination and bigotry.” While you may now feel the urge to be ‘politically celibate’, the truth is that words matter and have nothing to do with your role as president.”
Contact Alice Gary at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @AlissaGary1.
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Alyssa Gary is a freshman journalism major who covers student government for The Alligator. You’ll usually find her watching (and talking) movies, tending to her plants, or drinking coffee when she’s not reporting.