Tuesday night’s Student Senate meeting began with passionate speeches from Senators after the UF community woke up to a letter by Student Body President Susan Webster, published in the Alligator that morning.
Some were understanding, and others were aggravated or confused by the letter that informed students four amendments to the constitution were overturned due to the Student Body Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article VIII, Section 5 on Saturday.
Senator Aimee Dolan (District E) used her allotted minute to start the public debate.
“It was really confusing to me why the executive branch was speaking on behalf of the judicial branch, and why we haven’t had a public opinion on our Supreme Court yet,” she said.
Later, Senator Max Stein (Graduate-07) said it was inappropriate for the executive branch to speak for the judicial branch.
He also questioned why the court met during the intersection of Summer A and B when many senators were not in town.
The judicial branch has yet to release an official statement backing President Webster’s letter.
Senator Macey Wilson (Fine Arts) said she is concerned with the Supreme Court and President Webster’s lack of communication with the community.
“We attempted to get some minutes and were told nothing existed, and this doesn’t really seem transparent, especially since the press weren’t invited; we weren’t notified; we didn’t know anything about it,” she said.
The Alligator did not receive any direct notice of the meeting from either the judicial or executive branch.
According to the Student Government Constitution, said Senator Shayli Patel (Hume), the Student Senate is the sole judge of election results, and it did approve the election results for the online voting amendment.
“We should be working with nothing but the best interests of the Student Body in mind, and that means bringing online voting to our Student Government elections,” says Senator Patel.
Austin Young from Global Vote used his time to address another overturned amendment that allowed organizations to get only 5 percent of the Student Body’s signatures instead of 10 percent to put an amendment on the voting ballot.
Global Vote, he said, would now need twice as many signatures to get online voting back on the ballot.
The amendment could also be placed back on the ballot if the Senate reached a two-thirds majority, which Young said he would like to see happen immediately.
Young also said the prohibition of online voting is in the codes and not the constitution. He said the Senate could try to strike those codes and make online voting a law.
Senator Praveen Varanasi (District D-10) was the last to speak during the public debate, blaming SG for disenfranchising students.
“The student that was living a dream by pursuing a study abroad in Spain; the student that is pursuing a promising internship due to their involvement in Innovation Academy; the student who works full time and cannot afford to relocate, so they take classes online — these are all students at the University of Florida,” Varanasi said. “Yet when it comes to the voting system, they have an asterisk next to their name.”
President Webster was not at Tuesday’s Senate meeting. Instead, Ty Robare, the Action SG chairman, made the Student Body President’s Office report.
Senator Dolan asked Robare if he would speak for the president, and he declined.
Student Body Treasurer, Kishan Patel, also declined to speak for the president when asked by Dolan.
In the interest of transparency, Senator Stein asked Robare if the executive branch’s meetings will be recorded in the near future.
When Robare said no, Stein asked what it would take to have the meetings recorded.
“Money,” Robare said.
During the meeting, Senate President Jenny Clements said a notice for the Supreme Court meeting was posted on the public notice board.
Though they may have been taken down, no notices of past or future Supreme Court meetings were found on the board the hour before Tuesday’s meeting.
President Clements said she supported the Supreme Court’s decision but is disappointed everyone’s hard work is now overturned. She also said the Online Voting Implementation Ad Hoc has been discharged.
In an interview with the Alligator, Webster said she has not met Chief Justice Christopher Tribbey in person, having conducted his interview over the phone before appointing him.
Webster said the court voted unanimously to overturn the amendments, and she was not involved in the decision.
“As soon as I was made aware of it, it was my duty to inform the Student Body,” she said.