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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Once upon a time, I used to be able to show up to Student Government Senate on Tuesday nights and leave around 20 minutes later. It was a time in which we would all sit there, pass legislation by unanimous consent, listen to a couple short reports and then move on with our night.

Things are not nearly as rosy anymore for good reason. With the presence of a minority party asserting its place in the Senate, a lot of the practices that the majority party got away with in the past are now being exposed.

During public debate on Tuesday night, speakers started off by calling out the recent actions by the Senate Replacement and Agenda Committee.

During Sunday’s committee meeting, Majority Party Leader Branden Pearson — a boy who makes Dick Cheney seem as benevolent as Santa — moved to appoint three students to Senate without discussion or deliberation. Earlier in the meeting, when challenged to share his notes on applicants to prove he was actually paying attention during the interviews, he refused and retorted that they had to be public records requested.

Emily Dunson, chair of the committee and quite frankly running for Student Body President next year (so she’s really trying to keep things together), had to pivot from saying they had to leave the room due to time constraints to pretending just because Pearson made the motion they now had to vote on it.

Senate President Libby Shaw was sadly absent minded for who knows how long. When the minority party leader asked her how she voted, she responded saying, “Are we voting right now?” Those Senate leadership salaries are truly well earned.

Tyler Kendrick, a member of the committee whose meekness has been the subject of a previous column, was about as insightful as a magic eight ball during the proceedings. He voted yes. What a pushover.

Apparently it’s cool now to make people senators without discussing their applications.

Later in Tuesday’s Senate meeting, the senators went through and approved the first readings for major changes to how student organizations will be funded. SG was sued over the way it handled funding organizations. Now, we are changing the way we handle our money.

Many student organizations voiced their concerns with respect to first-come, first-serve funding, the transition between models and event caps, but it really just seems like we’re going into this with our fingers crossed. The minority party voted against the changes.

When it came to consideration of the Replacement and Agenda Committee’s Senator nominations, Shaw ruled Senator Ben Lima as “constructively absent,” which would mean Lima’s resignation via absences if legitimate. Shaw then threatened any minority senators with the potential of getting their own absences when they protested the move. Minority Party Leader Ashley Grabowski was also ruled absent, resulting in a resignation as well. When arguing with Shaw after, Shaw taunted Grabowski saying she was upset because her boyfriend, Lima, had been kicked out of Senate.

I don’t know how I feel about reducing women to just their relationship status, but I guess there’s no lower limit for the behavior of the majority party. (I was also upset at the way Lima was treated, and we’re just friends.)

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It is not cool to have Senate President Shaw to run amok in the chambers threatening people with absences and breaking the rules.

I just don’t get why we keep on doing shady stuff and breaking rules. It ain’t cool.

Zachariah Chou is a UF political science junior. His column appears on Thursdays.

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