It’s been a tumultuous summer for Student Government.
For students moving into dorms and ordering used textbooks, here’s a review of SG summer news.
Seats deemed illegitimate
Senate President Libby Shaw nullified approved summer replacements, appointed by absent senators, in May. Shaw cited Article III, Section IV of the Student Body constitution, which says all Senate replacements must be approved on May 1, whereas many of the replacements were approved before May 1.
The Replacement and Agenda committee was tasked with choosing replacements. Inspire went from having around 25 seats to around 10.
Then, Shaw declared Minority Inspire Party Leader Ashley Grabowski and Inspire Senator Ben Lima “constructively absent,” resulting in them losing their seats.
The term “constructively absent” is not in the SG Rules and Procedures. It was created by Shaw to explain Grabowski and Lima’s removal. The students are trying to appeal for their seats back, but haven’t been successful.
Senate passed the Rules and Procedures Amendment on Aug. 6 which included adding constructive absences as a power.
Protests of this proposal claim it would violate students' rights to due process, equal protection and free speech, said Inspire Senator Zachary Amrose.
Lima said it’s important for students to keep an eye on SG occurrences to hold the Senate accountable.
“The University of Florida is a breeding ground for the future leaders of the state of Florida and the United States,” Lima said. “So, making sure that these people are the best quality and the most ethical possible is of the utmost importance.”
The 2020-2021 fiscal year budget was approved with a 3 percent increase from the 2019-2020 budget.
The Senate Rules and Procedures underwent major revisions and the 2019-2020 budget ran out of money to fund event requests made by influential student organizations, leaving many unable to fund activities.
In the 2020-2021 year, SG will control a budget of over $22 million funded by student tuition fees. After a whirlwind summer, Impact and Inspire are back while small student sub-organizations scramble with funding.
SG’s funding system was restructured for organizations such as the Black Student Union and Asian American Student Union following the Young Americans for Freedom’s lawsuit against UF.
This reallocation caused an uproar when organizations had to give up their sub-organizations and lost funding for welcome assemblies.
Inspire Senator Zachariah Chou wrote a bill that would transfer $800,000 from SG reserves to help fund assemblies and additional events by the organizations.
In the fall, Impact Senator Nicholas Meyers wants to achieve equity in funding organizations.
In the last Senate meeting on Aug. 6, several people disaffiliated from Impact, which might provoke more members to follow suit or push to rebrand the party.
“People have said that there’s a lot of divisiveness and partisanship in the student government,” Meyers said. “That’s something that I have seen change from last fall into the summer.”
Contact Emma McAvoy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaMcAvoy1.
Mauricio Perez announces he is disaffiliating from the Impact Party during the final Student Government Senate meeting of the summer in the Reitz Union chamber room August 6.