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UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Twenty senators confirmed after candidates vote for themselves

Newly appointed senator, senate president pro tempore refuse to speak with student media

The Student Government Senate voted to appoint one senator for a vacant school-wide position and confirmed another 20 unopposed senate seats in an emergency senate meeting Nov. 2.

The 21st senator, freshman Sara Burris, who did not run or submit any paperwork for this semester’s election, will be sworn into office at the Nov. 9 senate meeting.

The 20 — now  21, including Burris — unopposed school-wide senate seat positions were not put to a vote by the general student population this semester, as fall 2009’s election was cancelled because of legislation passed early this semester, which eliminated the write-in candidate option and allowed for the cancellation of an election that is unopposed.

At the Nov. 2 special senate meeting, the original 20 seats were confirmed and they were sworn into office, officially becoming senators in the legislative branch of SG.

Senate President James Cima said Burris did run for a senate seat during summer 2009, but she was disqualified for missing a paperwork deadline. This is similar to a disqualification that occurred during this semester’s election, in which ex-candidate Brianna Duque was reportedly disqualified because she did not have enough student signatures on her application.

Duque said all of the student’s names were currently enrolled but about five opted not to disclose their N# because of privacy concerns. She said she was alerted that was not in accordance with SG policy about 20 minutes before the deadline by Election Supervisor Erica Richey.

When told about the senator who appointed without any paper work, Duque said “are you serious.”

She has not decided whether she will run for election in the spring.

Cima said when Burris read Richey’s advertisement in the Spinnaker, which confirmed the cancellation of the election, Burris decided to try again to become a senator, though the deadline had already passed.

Cima said in the Spinnaker’s Oct. 21 issue concerning the change that eliminated the write-in candidacy option was the right decision because it would be unfair to allow someone into office who had missed the deadline for the official election, as this overrides the hard work the other candidates did to get their paperwork in on time.

After the newly appointed Burris gave a speech about her qualifications, which include participation in Delta Gamma sorority as well as SG experience in middle school.

Cima said there are multiple open senate seats but could not name off the top of his head how many.

A reporter approached Burris to ascertain further information regarding her background but was told at the Nov. 2 meeting she would not comment to the Spinnaker.

“I’m actually not supposed to talk to the Spinnaker,” Burris said.

Burris would not say who told her not to speak with the student newspaper.

A similar incident occurred when another agency of student media, Osprey TV, approached SG for comment on the elections Oct. 30.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jessica Amick, who ran the Nov. 2 special meeting, told News Director Garrett Mann and Program Director Matt Head she could not comment.

“We’ve been told not to talk to the Spinnaker or anybody,” she said.

When Head told her they were with Osprey TV, not the Spinnaker, she said: “Yeah, I still can’t talk” and told him to speak with the executive’s Director of Public Relations Alexandra Schmidt, who is under the executive branch and doesn’t reside over the senate’s legislative branch.

Schmidt was reported to be out of the office when Head went to speak with her, he said.

Student Body President John Barnes and Senate President James Cima both said the SG leadership did not tell the senators not to talk.

“We have nothing to hide, but everyone knows we screwed up,” Barnes said. “People get nervous when the media comes around, but honestly it was nothing malicious.”

However, Barnes did say that because the executive cabinet is “young and inexperienced,” SG decided to tell them to talk to Schmidt before commenting with the media.

Schmidt said she doesn’t work with the senate’s public relations issues, in an interview with the Spinnaker Nov. 3.

“We never told [the SG Senate] they need to go through me or Barnes, but we are going to encourage them to consult with us,” she said.

Barnes said he wanted his executive branch to be on the same page.

“However, [the senate] can do their own thing,” he said.

Cima will also step down from his position as senate president Nov. 9. The only candidate running for this soon-to-be open seat is Mack (James) Volk, a senator and the current chair of the budget and allocations committee.

The duties of the senate president position include setting procedures and agendas for the entire senate.

Josh Gore and James Cannon contributed to this report.

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  • M

    Mike MaulsbyNov 19, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I am a UNF alumni and when I was attending there was allways lots of students running for Senate. An uncontested election certainly was never heard of. What happend?

  • T

    thamanjimmyNov 4, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    This is a joke. I hope these guys don’t actually make real decisions that effect UNF students.

    OOO article idea for the Spinnaker – write about what these guys actually do and all the money they spend (waste) on it.

    • R

      Rebecca McKinnonNov 11, 2009 at 12:42 am

      Great idea. Sounds like a double truck (two full pages) for the spring