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Friday, March 31, 2023
Student Government SG Generic
Student Government SG Generic

Shrimp and grits skewers, security guards and potted palm trees are only a few components of a more than $20,000 UF Student Government banquet to be held today.

SG will host its annual banquet at 6 p.m. at the Champion’s Club in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to celebrate the outgoing administration and swear in the new Student Body president, vice president and treasurer, Student Body President Ian Green wrote in an email.

Here are four things to know about the banquet, including cost, guests and revenue sources:

There were 213 people invited, but only 170 accepted their invites, Terence “Terry” Delahunty, Green’s chief of staff, wrote in an email. There is no waitlist.

The guest list includes university officials, SG agency heads and local leaders. The guest list only includes one Inspire-affiliated senator, Mackintosh Joachim.

Ashley Grabowski, the Senate minority party leader (Inspire, Graduate), was not invited to attend Wednesday’s event. The majority party leader, Tony Emmett (Impact, District B), is invited.

When asked why Grabowski was not invited, Delahunty said guests were chosen based on whether they won an award, collaborated on an initiative or are “leaders on campus who made a positive impact on campus and within Student Government itself.” The invitations are ultimately up to Green.

Green said he chose a bigger venue to accommodate more guests. Last year’s banquet was held at the O’Connell Center.

“While there are 35 Inspire senators, there are over 800 SG positions that need to be considered,” Green said.

The event cost $20,646, according to a public records request.

The most expensive portion of the event is the food, which cost $10,521.

The reservation for the Champion’s Club in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium cost $2,500 and the awards cost $2,624.

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Security officers, who will oversee the cash bar and check-in, cost $504. Decorations, including potted palm trees and royal blue and orange tablecloths, cost $3,137.

Both Green and SG advisor James Tyger said the banquet is typically $20,000 annually.

The money for this event came from outside revenue, which is not generated by the activity and service fees, that UF students pay $19.06 per credit hour for, Green said.

Neither Green nor Delahunty could specify where the money for the banquet came from but said it stemmed from programs like the Housing Fair, Young Leaders Conference and the Florida Student Government Institute.

Grabowski said she cares more about the cost of the banquet than the invitation list, even though she didn’t get an invite.

“Just because it’s external revenue doesn’t mean that the money can’t be used to help students,” Grabowski said.

Zachariah Chou (Inspire, Murphree) was invited to the SG banquet his freshman year but he did not attend. An invitation was sent out through the Senate email list and people registered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Chou was not invited this year.

Chou said having a banquet that celebrates everyone would be fine, but the exclusivity and amount of money spent is problematic.

“We could use that money to fund projects that actually matter,” Chou said.

Delahunty and Green said they were only aware of one occasion in which the banquet funds were donated, and that was in 2008. They cited Alligator archives.

Green said he chose to have the banquet because he worked to better utilize SG’s budget across campus this year.

Grabowski said that the money for the banquet could be better spent on programs like more comprehensive sexual assault training for employees or larger testing facilities for the Disability Resource Center to accommodate more students.

Grabowski said a survey could be sent out to students to determine how the money is spent.

“Wouldn’t that have been an awesome opportunity to give constituents a voice?” Grabowski said.

Charcuterie station: $950

Shrimp and grits with candied bacon skewer: $437.50

Carving station with chicken and brisket, jackfruit sliders, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, mashed potatoes, salad and rolls:  $4,198

Mini trifle key lime pie and peach cobbler: $200

Banana pudding: $129.50

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