Although it would not count for the Guinness Book of World Records, outgoing student body president Cesar Hernandez wanted to shine a spotlight on USF and national issues, such as tuition increases and immigration laws.
Hernandez, a senior majoring in biomedical science, was initially interested in setting a new record. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attained that record in 2007 in a live, almost nine-hour broadcast on his television show, Al Presidente. But unfortunately, according to Hernandez, there was not enough time or money to qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records. Hernandez said the organization required 400 euros and six weeks’ notice in advance to register the speech. But, Hernandez assured listeners that his speech could not wait.
“Well, I’m a college student, first of all. I don’t have 400 euros,” Hernandez said. “Second of all, the students can’t wait six weeks. This legislation is going on now. So, sorry Guinness World Records.”
In a press release from USF’s Student Government, the goal of Hernandez’s speech was clear: “What the movement is asking for is simple: Nationally: Do not cut federal summer financial aid for students; do not cut the educational budget; concentrate on a comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform. Statewide: Do not cut the state university system budget; say no to SB-2040; say yes to SB-318.”
Hernandez, who recently won top honors at a competition in Dubai for a presentation on American immigration policies, remained enthusiastic about equality as he spoke to students who had gathered to see him.
“We should look at it as us Americans and them inferior,” Hernandez said of illegal immigrants. “We should look at them as our brothers and our sisters also, and that’s what separates our generation from previous generations.”
While Chavez’s broadcast was littered with ramblings, jokes and commentary, Hernandez’s speech was well-versed. During the 24 hours, which ended at 11 a.m. Wednesday morning, Hernandez spent several hours reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn—but he was excited for the speech to end.
“Go Bulls!” he said, ending his speech on a high note.
While Hernandez’ speech was meant to attract national attention, local students had mixed opinions on it.
“I think it was a good effort and really shows so much dedication from Cesar Hernandez,” Cody Likavec, a senior majoring in statistics said. “He’s done a lot of work in his time as president, and it’s really impressive.”
Senior Kristin Johnson said Hernandez’s efforts were for the greater good, but she is not sure what the outcome will be.
“He has accomplished a lot, but a speech this long might just look like something pointless,” Johnson said. “Hopefully this will at least get the attention of people involved in local government.”