By Christine Alvarez
UF Law’s new Student Bar Association will be having its first election of executive officers today, but many students are still not exactly sure what the SBA is, or why they should be voting in the first place.
What is the SBA?
The SBA will essentially serve as the official governing body of UF Law’s student body, according to the organization’s constitution. Its mission is to foster a collaborative, engaging, educational, professional and social environment at UF Law that enhances students’ educational experiences and prepares them to practice law.
“The SBA is going to be a great tool for connecting students with the administration,” said Amber “Dee” Lengacher, 2L, who is running for SBA social chair. “There are a lot of really good people and departments within the administration, but I feel like students don’t always know where or who to go to when they have ideas, problems, or concerns.”
Lengacher said the SBA will hopefully help solve this problem.
Many law schools across the nation have an SBA, and Dean Laura Rosenbury was surprised that UF Law did not have one when she first came on board.
“Because we didn’t have a general membership SBA, we didn’t have a formal mechanism for students to communicate with the dean’s office and other aspects of the administration,” Rosenbury said.
Rosenbury, who has been talking about starting the new organization since last spring, said that it will serve multiple goals, including providing a structure where every student can be a member without paying money, and every student can be eligible to vote for representatives. “Another goal is to provide a formal link between the student body and the law school administration and finally, I hope it will increase the inclusiveness of the UF Law community,” Rosenbury said.
The SBA will consist of nine executive board members, including UF Law’s student-elected senator Allie Watson, 1L, according to its constitution. SBA will also have a board of directors that will consist of elected class representatives: six 2Ls, six 3Ls, and two 1Ls per section. It will also include two representatives from students in the post-JD LL.M. program, as well as one representative for transfer students.
“I see the SBA as a way to connect everyone at UF Law instead of just catering toward people fresh out of undergrad,” said Paul Cuffe, 1L, who is running for SBA President. “I think it’ll provide a really great nexus that people can go towards.”
“There are a lot of people who have families in law school, and that’s just one of the ways I think in which we are diverse and where the SBA will be inclusive,” said Rachel Inman, associate dean for student affairs.
Inman also said that she hopes the SBA will mimic or be similar to local bar associations.
“If programming or topics that are discussed are similar to what one might experience in a local bar association, I think our students will be further ahead in terms of what to expect when they are out in their community practicing law,” Inman said.
How can students be a part of SBA?
On Wednesday, Inman sent out an email to all law students with the names of the candidates running for SBA’s executive board positions. The students are allowed to campaign for their position, but it must conclude immediately following the election.
Inman said that all law students are eligible to vote, and all they need to do is bring a valid Gator 1 to the Student Affairs Office today between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to cast their vote.
Although the campaigning and election process may have seemed rushed, Rosenbury believes it will smoothen out as the SBA grows and develops.
“I think its always hard to get a new organization off the ground, particularly one that we wanted to primarily be student-led,” Rosenbury said. “My hope is that we can have the elections, the representatives will be selected through those elections, and then the representatives can work together to ensure that next year’s elections go more smoothly. I want the students to be leading the development of the SBA.”
Access the ballot here: Student Bar Association Ballot