With no legislation on the docket, public comments concerning student organization funding and executive branch efforts consumed the Jan. 31 Student Government Senate meeting.
Seventy-nine senators were present when Senate President Olivia Green, who Gator Party announced as its candidate Wednesday for student body president, called the meeting to order at 7:34 p.m.
Sen. Mohammed Faisal (Change-District D) spoke during public comment about his disappointment in recent miscommunications between SG and student organizations arising from the failure of two pieces of legislation concerning student organization funding.
“I found all of these issues with help from a whole bunch of people,” Faisal said. “I want to work with everyone in this chamber to fix them.”
The first would have clarified the definition of "direct guidance" in an SG policy that outlines the eligibility of student organizations to obtain SG funding.
The rule states any student organization receiving direct guidance through UF resources, also known as University Sponsored Student Organizations (USSOs), cannot receive funding from SG. General Registered Student Organizations (GRSOs), which are not supposed to receive financial support from departments, can acquire SG funding.
However, Faisal highlighted all student organizations, including GRSOs, are required to have a paid UF faculty or staff member serve as an organization advisor. He said this could be interpreted as direct guidance through UF resources, making all student organizations ineligible to receive SG funding.
Most USSOs could file a lawsuit against SG due to the confusion concerning what constitutes direct guidance, he said.
“[This situation] is a lawsuit waiting to happen,” he said.
The second bill proposed student organizations shouldn’t be permitted to purchase specific resources, such as meeting and storage spaces.
While the bill failed, Faisal presented a November email exchange where the SG Finance staff denied the Pride Student Union’s request to purchase storage space. Faisal expressed concern over the possibility that this isn’t the first instance of SG leaders enforcing failed legislation.
During the committee reports, Budget and Appropriations committee Chairwoman Emily Pecora addressed Faisal’s earlier concerns and said Student Activities and Involvement (SAI) doesn’t classify organization advisors as “direct guidance,” and SAI classifies organizations as either USSOs or GRSOs through individually administered assessments. She also said she would contact SG Finance to inquire if failed legislation is still being enforced.
During student body officer reports, Student Body Vice President Daniel Badell discussed recent executive branch projects.
The First Generation Affairs Cabinet's established the First-Generation Living Learning Community, a central space meant to provide community building and academic support to first-generation UF students, Badell said.
Meanwhile, the food insecurity task force works with Field & Fork Pantry to address on-campus food insecurity. He also told the chamber to look out for upcoming announcements about LGBTQ community outreach efforts.
“As the first-ever openly gay member of an executive ticket, it’s been a priority of mine to make sure LGBTQ+ students are at the forefront of my advocacy,” Badell said.
Senate meets every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Senate Chambers, located in the Reitz Union. The meetings are open to the general public.
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Amanda Friedman is a senior journalism major and the Enterprise Editor at The Alligator. She previously wrote for the Avenue, Metro and University desks. When she isn't reporting, she loves watching coming-of-age films and listening to Ariana Grande.