At Gov. Alexis Roberson’s Student Body Address on Thursday, she said perseverance, especially by students of color, was prominent during her term alongside Lt. Gov. Kiara Brooks as voices for the student body.
“We as students not only had to battle achieving academic success in a virtual environment, but specifically students of color were also fighting for our civil and human rights on all political levels,” she said. “Through all of this, our university and, most importantly our students, persevered.”
The event, which began at 5:15 p.m. and lasted a little over 20 minutes at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater, was the first in-person Governor Student Body Address since the beginning of the pandemic. Roberson used the opportunity to highlight the goals the duo has accomplished as they prepare to pass the torch to Gov.-elect Joey Cipriano and Lt. Gov.-elect Gabrielle Henry at the end of the semester.
Initiatives focusing on diversity efforts were at the forefront of the achievements Roberson was proud of, such as overseeing the opening of the Institute on Black Life’s student lounge.
The opening of the space further advances the university’s commitment to progress, according to Roberson, as prioritizing student wellness is the fundamental piece behind making beneficial changes.
“That was truly a moment of pride, as [USF] claims to be an institution that actively promotes racial equity across our campuses and in our local communities,” she said.
“But what do these words mean? It means we are a university that continuously evolves for the better, both academically and socially, strives to prioritize the experience of all students and supports the creation of a space for people of color, specifically Black students, where there is none.”
Described by Roberson as the most fulfilling accomplishment of their administration, January’s Day at the Capitol event safely transported 55 students amid a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant. Students had the opportunity to tour the Supreme Court and House of Representative chambers, as well as network with others in their desired occupations.
Although the speech was dedicated to the achievements of their term, Roberson emphasized the importance students have had in making these changes possible. The future of the university will continue to make progress in harboring a prominent voice for students of color, Roberson said, and this can only be accomplished through the power of the student body and student leaders.
“As I leave Student Government, I want students of color who look and sound like us to see themselves in the spaces we are occupying. I want those within these spaces to feel empowered to create a legacy of their own,” she said.
“I’m confident that no matter the affiliation of the organization, our legacy will live on in those who intentionally and diligently serve our student population. I look forward to a future where our university, through words, will prove who we want to be as an institution, and their actions prove who we are and what we stand for as a community.”