By: Greg Parlier, Editor In Chief
The UNF Student Government Senate meeting lasted more than three hours Jan. 30 as senators engaged in an extended discussion over appropriate requirements for SG members’ grade point averages.
The Senate eventually settled on lowering the requirement to 2.0, the minimum for any student to remain in good standing with the University. This is .25 lower than the previous requirement, but several senators wanted to raise the bar even higher for the student representatives.
“We are student leaders. Our academic requirements should reflect that,” said Constitution and Statutes Chair Yousra Hebeishy after she presented the bill in Senate. “If you can’t handle being a student, without the responsibility of SG added on top of that, then it’s questionable as to whether you’d be able to handle the responsibility of SG.”
The original document, as authored by Hebeishy, suggested to amend the bill from last year’s 2.25 requirement to 2.75. After that suggestion was met with an unfavorable response in the Constitution and Statutes Committee, Hebeishy decided to lower the requirement to 2.25 for SG representatives and 2.75 for the president and vice president in her presentation before the full Senate, but that was still too high for some.
“This isn’t an honors club, this isn’t a scholarly organization, this is an organization where students voice their concerns to be heard by other students who also have those concerns,” said Elections and Appointments Chair Joel Versace.
Versace, along with several others who spoke out in the meeting against the amendment – including SG Senate President Carlo Fassi after stepping down from his seat as president at one point – were concerned with the principle of having a grade requirement determine who can and can’t represent the students.
“If you are in good standing, if you pay [Activities & Servies] fees, we shouldn’t marginalize you,” Fassi said. “You should have the right to sit in this room.”
Ultimately, a small majority of Senate agreed, as Hebeishy’s amendment died by a vote of 19-17. Patience began to thin after another round of discussion over lowering the GPA requirement further.
“I don’t think any standard should ever be lowered, and I don’t think this is an unbearable thing to ask of people,” said SG Senate Pro-Temp Lindsay Edwards. “By no means are we trying to dictate and kick everyone out right now, but I think this is more than reasonable.”
Regardless, no one could be persuaded, as the Senate approved the lowering of the requirement to 2.0 by a similar 20-16 margin.
In comparison, the Center for Student Media board, the governing body for the Spinnaker, Osprey TV, Osprey Radio and Spinnaker Digital, requires its student leaders to have a GPA of 2.25 or higher.
The bill will appear on the ballot in March for student approval.
Club travel request process simplified
The Senate also passed The Travel Funding Revision Act of 2012, which, according to Interim Budget and Allocations Chair Fassi, will streamline the travel request process for clubs.
“I wanted to cut some red tape that the clubs have to go through to get their funding,” he said. “Seven weeks is a long time before an event to have to submit a request.”
The bill gives added responsibility to the B&A committee to decide which clubs deserve the money they are asking for, and each request no longer has to be seen in the full senate.
This bill cuts the foresight clubs must give the Senate when requesting funds for trips by two weeks – from seven weeks to five.
Former UNF Surf Club President and current SG Senator Thomas Ritter thinks the bill is a big step in the right direction for UNF to support their clubs.
Additionally, the bill gives clubs the opportunity to place travel requests four times a year, instead of only one. They still have a $2,500 cap per year, as before, but now they can request it over as many as four requests, making it easier for clubs to go on multiple trips throughout the year.
“They’ll be able to go to more events, and they’ll be able to be more competitive because they could have more talent,” Ritter said.
“A lot of the surfers surf professionally, so they don’t want to pay out of pocket to go to a contest when it’s just for school pride when the school’s not supporting us,” Ritter said. “But now they are.”
If a request is denied in committee, or if the President vetoes it, the Senate could still hear the request with the sponsorship of eight senators. This caveat acts as a check on the committee’s power to allocate funds.
A few senators expressed doubt in handing all the power of approving requests over to the B&A committee, but Fassi assured the Senate they would receive details of all requests passed in committee.
The bill passed 30-6.
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