UF Inspire Party Senators Zachary Amrose and Zachariah Chou have collected more than 1,000 signatures for a petition to pass a bill that would transfer $800,000 from Student Government reserves to fund student organizations.
The goal of creating the reserves transfer is to ensure that student organizations receive funding they were denied following the Young Americans for Freedom’s lawsuit settlement of $66,000 against UF this Summer, Amrose said.
“Without this reserves transfer, we honestly don’t know of any possible solution to ensure that organization events are funded for the next year,” Amrose said.
The student organizations’ funding was exhausted only a few weeks after they applied for it. The Big 9 student organizations, which cater to minority groups, faced financial challenges after the change.
Due to the funding changes in SG’s 800 codes, which govern student organization funding, most of the organizations that were eligible weren’t aware they could be funded, Amrose said.
“When [the student organizations] are made aware, they don’t even have proper access to funds because Student Government’s funds were exhausted prematurely,” he said.
The petition opened five days ago and was emailed to student organizations to garner student support, and 112 organizations have sponsored the bill, Amrose said. Organizations were encouraged to share the petition on social media.
If the bill is passed by the SG Executive Committee, which is comprised of Student Body President Michael Murphy; Vice President Sarah Abraham; and Treasurer Santiago Gutierrez, it will then move on to the Budget Committee and be considered in the Senate.
The executive committee also consists of the Senate President, Libby Shaw; pro tempore, Emily Dunson; and Budget and Appropriations Chair, Cooper Brown.
Amrose and Chou don’t know the amount of signatures it would take to convince the Executive Committee to move the bill forward. They’re depending on the committee to consider this reserves transfer bill during its meeting, Amrose said.
“One challenge we have encountered is ensuring that students are aware of what’s happening,” Amrose said. “By the nature of Student Government’s lack of transparency on these issues, many organizations weren’t aware that they could apply for funding.”
Amrose expressed concern over SG continuing to “show apathy.”
“Student Government will not act unless students make their voices clear,” Amrose said. “This petition is an opportunity for students to make their voices clear in a way that Student Government will actually listen.”
For Impact Party, the main concern isn’t the lack of funding, rather how to allocate the funds while sticking to the outcome of the YAF litigation, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez expressed concern over the dependability of the reserves transfer because it creates an inflated budget from $1.3 to $2.1 million, which wouldn’t be available to SG in the future.
“[The reserves transfer] creates a false sense of security while not addressing the crux of the issue,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not an effective nor a long-term solution, and the process by which the reserve transfer is being requested goes against Code 820.1.”
The SG finance team has been looking into creating simpler solutions to these issues presenting a hurdle for organizations’ budget requests, he said.
“We are looking into the longevity of the budget allocated for student organizations and seeing how it can naturally sustain and grow itself in the future,” Gutierrez said.
Murphy said it was unfortunate that Chou and the Inspire Party are “politicizing this.” In an email, Murphy wrote that the YAF settlement would ensure equal treatment amongst all student organizations.
“It can be expected that all allocated funding will be utilized every semester,” Murphy said. “It can also be expected that student organizations that might have previously received preferential treatment will face growing pains while they get used to a model where all student organizations are treated equally.”
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Zach Chou's name. It has also been updated to reflect the full Executive Committee.
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Kevin Nguyen, president of the Vietnamese Student Organization, speaks during the public comment part of the UF Student Government Senate meeting on Aug. 6. Nguyen began by stating things SG members all have in common. He said that they were all Gators, all served in the Senate and all could make a difference. “We all have the potential to do something great,” Nguyen said.