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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Student Government Senate president or dictator?

I was removed from the most recent Senate meeting by Senate President Kyle Garner because I tried to have the Senate hear a bill condemning UF’s use of prison slavery.

It was Tuesday night, and I knew it would be a wild one because this was the night that I along with many other senators would try to get the Senate to hear a resolution urging UF administrators to immediately cease its use of prison slave labor. The resolution was postponed indefinitely by the Judiciary Committee, so it would take some procedural maneuvering to get this done.

It was the end of a rather lengthy and impactful public comment supporting the resolution, and I was sitting there, Robert’s Rules of Order (our basic rulebook) in hand, waiting for the chance to move to discharge the resolution from the Judiciary Committee. Discharging is the procedural motion that would allow us to hear the resolution that night and pass it. Senator Wynton White beat me to it and made the motion. The Senate President immediately ruled the motion out of order citing the Senate Rules and Procedures.

I had done my research ahead of time and knew that everything we were doing followed all of the rules we have. I tried to appeal to Kyle’s sense of logic and reason to no avail. I made direct citations from Robert’s Rules and the Senate Rules and Procedures. Without actually even looking at either set of rules, Kyle ruled that it was in his opinion that I was wrong and started to threaten me with warnings should I dare to further correct his majesty.

Later in the meeting, I tried a different approach. I tried to move to rescind the decision of the Judiciary Committee. This is completely allowed, according to Robert’s Rules, because the Judiciary Committee is a subordinate body of the Senate. However, Kyle decided—again without looking at the cited page number—that it was his opinion that we could not do this because the Senate Rules and Procedures don’t explicitly say we can. What he failed to realize is that the Senate Rules and Procedures only overrule Robert’s Rules if they are in direct conflict, which in this case they weren’t. I even pointed to the page number in the book that says we can, but to no avail because Kyle, without looking up the rules, issued my third and final warning and then kicked me out of the meeting.

I know all the procedural stuff is very confusing, and I don’t expect everyone to understand it. However, I do expect the Senate President to understand it. It is quite literally his job to understand it. Let’s not forget that we pay him thousands of dollars with our student fees. Rather than try to understand and listen to the advice of those who know more than him, our Senate President does whatever he wants and makes rules up as he goes. He threatens anyone who dares to question him and if that doesn’t sound bad enough he claims to be the victim and claims that he’s being personally attacked when I or anyone else call out his lack of understanding of the rules.

Kyle Garner does not know the rules. He is not qualified to be in his position, and he should not be running the Senate like it’s some military junta where anyone who chooses to speak out is viciously removed.

I was not and never will be afraid to call out abuses of power and ignorance of the rules. I was the first to yell that the emperor wears no clothes and I paid the price.

Sahil Patel is a second year UF aerospace engineering major and serves as the Hume Area Senator.

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