Tuesday’s UF Student Government Senate meeting began in debate and ended with two senators losing seats.
Senate Minority Leader Ashley Grabowski (Inspire, Graduate) and Senator Ben Lima (Inspire, District D) were notified via email Wednesday night they lost their seats from past absences.
Despite being present at the meeting, they were deemed constructively absent, which is not a term in the SG governing documents, by Senate President Libby Shaw, (Independent, Journalism and Communications), who does not have the power to remove members from the chamber. This put them over the limit of unexcused absences, so they will be forced to resign.
According to the Senate Rules and Procedures, the power to remove disruptive members from meetings is reserved for the Sergeant-at-Arms. Shaw appointed Kyle Levy (Impact, District D) and Chad Brittain (Impact, Building Construction) to the position in the Spring. Neither of them removed Grabowski or Lima from the meeting.
“Senators Lima and Grabowski violated several procedural rules and failed to maintain decorum,” Shaw said.
Grabowski and Lima can appeal this decision before the Rules and Ethics Committee next Senate meeting.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted on nominees for four permanent Senate seats and 14 summer replacement seats. The nominees were chosen by the Replacement and Agenda Committee Sunday.
The Senate approved proposed revisions to the 600 and 700 codes to help accommodate LGBTQ+ students and a resolution memorializing the three-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The 600 codes are general statutes and the 700 codes are election rules.
The 600 code revision amended the wording on eligibility rules for the William Rion Memorial Award, granted to two senators, by eliminating the requirement it be given to one male and one female.
The 700 code revision ensured anyone running for an SG position could run under the name they identify under.
The Senate ran into problems when voting to approve the R&A committee’s nomination because Kyra Ducoat (District D) had not officially resigned her temporary summer replacement seat and voted on her nomination to a permanent District D seat.
Lima attempted to raise a point of information to Shaw about Ducoat. After Shaw responded, Lima attempted to raise a parliamentary inquiry. Despite this being a procedure allowed by “Robert’s Rules of Order” which the Senate follows, Shaw issued him a warning.
When he attempted to clarify, Shaw declared him constructively absent, a term not mentioned in SG governing documents.
Grabowski said Shaw’s actions violated procedure. Shaw then issued Grabowski three warnings after she raised Points of Order, a procedure also allowed in “Robert’s Rules of Order.” Shaw then marked her constructively absent. Shaw said proper protocol was followed. Grabowski said Shaw broke procedure to kick out minority leadership.
Although neither were allowed to participate, Grabowski and Lima continued to stand for votes.
Grabowski attempted to show Shaw the rule she believed would prove the warnings that she and Lima received were invalid.
Grabowski said Shaw responded by saying Grabowski only cared because her “boyfriend [Lima] just got kicked out.”
On Wednesday, Senate approved proposed revisions to the 800 codes, which govern SG finance. Grabowski and Lima were present but could not participate.
“We intend to pursue all possible avenues within and outside of SG to get this decision overturned,” Grabowski said.
Editors’ note: this article has been updated from the June 20 print edition to reflect citations in Robert’s Rules of Order and SG protocol.
Ashley Grabowski explains to the Senate that Inspire Party will be objecting to several of the Replacement and Agenda Committee’s nominations for Summer replacements seats because they were voted on without being properly discussed.