In the middle of the day Tuesday, Cesar Hernandez was sweating in his gray suit. In the middle of the night he ran out of bug spray.
But despite possible setbacks, the student body president completed his 24-hour speech Wednesday at 11 a.m. – the first step in his effort to draw legislator attention to student concerns and invite President Barack Obama to visit the University and address them.
He said the hardest part was to stay awake around sunrise Wednesday.
“It (was) challenging,” he said. “Not only are you pushing your body to the limit … but it’s like you’re tired. So it’s one thing when you’re tired, then there’s when your body is drained not because you’re moving, but because you haven’t rebooted it. My mind is really tired.”
During Hernandez’s 24 hours, he spoke on a variety of topics including the history of America and current legislation on immigration reform and the education budget – and did so without any bathroom breaks.
When his speech was over, his hair was still slicked back from the day before and his suit remained unchanged. He proceeded to ride on the Bull Runner with USF President Judy Genshaft and attended the inauguration ceremony for President-elect Matthew Diaz and Vice President-elect Zachary Johnson at 4 p.m.
“I can’t go home and sleep. I’m still student body president,” he said after the speech. “You can’t hold me accountable and say I’m neglecting my job.”
The first thing Hernandez did after his speech was remain in front of Cooper Hall, where the speech was held, to support Omar Rodriguez, a sophomore majoring in history and international studies who spoke for six hours after him to continue the attempt for the longest team speech.
Rodriguez said he spoke about the first U.S. president, George Washington.
“If we can’t come out of this world of apathy and become leaders, then this world is going to eat us up,” he said. “The thing is now the leaders aren’t teaching up coming leaders.”
Rodriguez said he has noticed students who “don’t know the difference between the preamble and the Constitution these days.”
“That’s sad,” he said. “I came at them with facts. I came at them with the way things really are. It’s not about the opinion, it’s about the facts. It’s about how the country was raised.”
A sign-up sheet was placed at the freedom of speech zone in front of Cooper Hall for students to sign up to talk.
Rodriguez said he “highly doubts” Obama will come to USF and that for a couple of hours there were no students listening to him.
“I feel like we’re getting our message across locally, but I don’t feel the momentum we need in order to get national attention,” he said. “You have to be real. It’s probably not going to happen. There are not a lot of people who care.”
Hernandez said he hopes for the team speech to continue for the rest of the week. According to the Facebook event, it is scheduled to end Saturday at 10 p.m.
Somewhere between the hours of 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday, no one was outside of Cooper Hall talking and the efforts of the team speech seemed to have died out.
“I was doing it for those students in high school who want to come to school in Florida – for students to have a voice (and) for future students to have a voice,” Hernandez said. “If Obama is the president that he says he is, he’ll come.”