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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

While many UF students left Gainesville for the summer for internships, jobs or to spend time in their hometowns, the Student Senate was still in session.

The Senate will carry on its duties Tuesday, said Student Senate President Robert Agrusa.

Agrusa said the Senate passed 30 laws during the summer. While most clarified past legislation, other Senate projects were more substantial, he said.

For example, the Senate featured guest speakers such as UF President Bernie Machen and UF Provost Janie Fouke.

Agrusa said the line of speakers would continue Tuesday with Jeremy Foley, UF?s athletic director.

Other projects included placing paper recycling bins around campus during exam weeks, working on a book buyback Web site to release at the end of September and finalizing plans for a student memorial, he said.

Agrusa and other Student Government officials also took a July trip to West Palm Beach to overhaul the Florida Student Association, which serves as the link between student interest and the Florida Legislature.

The association is made up of student government officials from Florida?s 11 public universities.

As president of the association, UF Student Body President Ryan Moseley led the revamping of the organization?s budget and cut ,33,000.

Agrusa said he personally rewrote nearly 80 bylaws in FSA?s constitution to streamline the organization?s efforts.

Some of the Senate?s activities drew more controversy than budget cuts.

In May, the Senate had a rough start when two out of 14 senators facing expulsion resigned.

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The senators were up for expulsion after failing to hold enough required meetings with the groups they represent.

Senators ultimately voted not to expel anyone. Agrusa declined to comment on the issue.

Controversy arose in July when the Senate removed UF?s Tower Yearbook as a part of SG.

Yearbook staffers were up in arms, saying they were unaware of the bill until the day it passed.

Agrusa said he supported the Senate?s decision because "nobody was really using the service."

Only about 80 yearbooks were sold in 2006.

The use of "I Voted" stickers during SG elections was also a sticky issue for the Senate after it gave SG?s supervisor of elections sole power to hand them out.

The Senate gave SG?s Elections Commission the power to determine an individual?s SG party affiliation based on his or her actions.

Thomas Jardon, a second-year law student at UF and former president of the Impact and Action parties, said the bill limited students? First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

Ryland Rogers, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he authored the bill in response to problems in the spring election and didn?t see it as a threat to free speech.

During that election, several students, some affiliated with the Pants Party and some who said they didn?t have an affiliation, passed out "I Voted" stickers.

Rogers said the stickers discouraged campaigners from approaching students who might not have voted.

Overall, Agrusa said the summer session might have been slower than previous years, but it was still successful.

"We had 44 replacement senators, which required a lot of training," he said. "It did take longer to get the ball rolling."

He said the fall semester would be dedicated to completing any unfinished summer projects and starting several new ones.

This includes making video recordings of Senate meetings available online, expanding UF WebMail and investigating the possible use of biodiesel fuel on Regional Transit System buses, he said.

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