Devon Philip has put in countless hours volunteering and organizing events as part of the Freshman Leadership Council, an organization designed to teach new students leadership skills.
This past year, Philip was the FLC chairman.
“FLC was the reason I stayed at UF,” the 20-year-old UF business administration senior said. “After the first meeting, I finally felt that I was in a place that was home.”
Each FLC class is composed of about 50 freshmen who work with a group of directors who are typically past members. Each year the FLC Chair is chosen by the Student Body president.
This year, Student Body President Michael Murphy’s nomination, Austin Carroll, became the subject of controversy, both within FLC and the Senate. Carroll has never been a member of FLC and was chosen over two past FLC members for the position, Philip said.
Carroll’s application was submitted to Murphy via email 38 days after the deadline. It consisted of two pages, a resume and the answers to three questions that totaled just over 350 words.
Another applicant, who had two years experience working with FLC, submitted a 10-page application.
Murphy said Carroll will be a great fit for the position, able to bring fresh leadership to the organization.
Philip was among more than a dozen speakers present at Tuesday’s meeting to contest Carroll’s appointment. There were almost two hours of public debate at the beginning of the meeting where speakers aired their grievances about appointments.
The Senate was set to approve the president’s nominations for agency heads, cabinet chairs, cabinet directors and executive secretaries Tuesday night. Because of a special rule, all candidates were voted on as blocks instead of each candidate being considered individually.
Members of the public, as well as the Senate, contested other executive appointments, citing lack of qualifications. Such appointments included agency heads of the Nightlife Navigators and Students Taking Action Against Racism, as well as cabinet directors of Finance and Affordability, Women’s Affairs, Veteran’s Affairs, Innovation and LGBTQ Affairs.
There was also contestation of the Diversity Affairs executive secretary.
Murphy said he had many of his nominations in mind before he took office, but he and his staff went through a rigorous selection process anyway.
“I and my staff made the choice to go above and beyond, accepting applications and conducting hours and hours of interviews for over 183 applicants,” Murphy said.
Senate President Libby Shaw said it is normal Senate procedure for the appointments to be heard in a block, and it was approved by the Replacement & Agenda Committee.
Senate Minority Leader Ashley Grabowski and other Inspire Party members tried several tactics to prevent the appointments they disagreed with from being voted on.
“We wanted to make sure we communicated why we opposed things,” Grabowski said.
They attempted to overturn the special rule, bring the nominations back to the executive branch and to have candidates from certain blocks, like Carroll, considered individually by the Senate. All of these resolutions failed to pass by a Senate majority vote.
The agency heads block was voted on at the end of Tuesday’s meeting and was approved.
Senator Will Sandifer said he supported each of the nominations confirmed.
“Student Body President Murphy and the executive branch went above and beyond in screening for qualified applicants,” Sandifer said. “I am happy to have confirmed the next generation of our university’s student leaders.”
Other blocks were unable to be voted on because a group of Inspire Party members led by Grabowski walked out so the Senate could no longer maintain quorum.
Shaw said that all procedures were followed during the meeting, and the rest of the blocks will be voted on at next week’s senate meeting.
Inspire plans to have the results of the agency heads vote overturned.
Ashley Grabowski (left) at a May 25 Student Senate meeting.