Bill that diminishes universities’ voices reaches compromise

Matt Head

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By: Matt Head & Justin Chandler Porter, OTV Station Manager & Contributing Writer

 

House Joint Resolution 931, a bill that could have diminished the voice of university students’ interests in Tallahassee, came to a compromise today.

 

The bill would have decided whether the student representative on the Florida Board of Governors should be elected by student members or appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

 

Under the new compromise, the student body presidents from Florida’s 11 public universities will work on a “council-like” structure that will vote on the representative, according to UNF Student Body President Matt Brockelman.

 

This effectively ceases the current structure of the Florida Student Association, an organization run by student body presidents and designed to represent the interests of all statewide university students.

 

Before the compromise, the bill was met with protest from members of the FSA.

 

Michael Long, the currently student-elected member of the Board of Governors and Chair of the FSA, said the bill would have favored those with “connections”. He said students would not be able to hold their representative accountable, and that larger universities would have more interest in political capital rather than state representation.

 

“Why would you not want more diversity and equal opportunity for all universities, and not just ones with the most legislative influence?” Long said.

 

The two student body presidents from the University of Florida and Florida State University supported the bill, and opposed the view of Long and Brockelman, among other student body presidents from smaller universities around the state.

 

“I think at the end of the day UF and FSU realized it would be hard to get this on the ballet and it would be hard to get 60 percent of the voting population to support a bill that no one really knows anything about,” Brockelman said.

 

Brockelman said he considers the compromise a win and it will will allow the universities to get back to focusing on real issues.

 

“I am hopeful we can keep some of the good parts of FSA and trip the parts the presidents of other schools don’t like.”

 

Email Matt Head and Justin Chandler Porter at [email protected]