Crowds and chaos: Senate passes proposed budget as is

Cameron Garrett

UNF’s Student Government (SG) senate meeting on Feb. 9 witnessed an unusually packed Senate Chamber, the passing of a controversial budget and an incident involving a UNF professor, the Senate and UNF campus police.

While most senate meetings have few spectators, last night’s meeting was one for the books. Inspired by budget cuts to the Spinnaker, over 20 Spinnaker employees and sympathizers crowded the back of the Senate Chamber.

Although the meeting centered around the budget and Spinnaker, regular proceedings were addressed first.

Business as usual

Brad Johnson, SG’s election commissioner, shared the presidential and senatorial candidate deadline, Feb. 13. A candidate information session will be held Feb. 25. An SG presidential debate will be held March 3 for the representatives of the Red Party, United Party and Party for Action. Moderators for the event have not yet been announced.

John Chwalisz, Osprey Productions director, attended the meeting in order to advocate homecoming week, as well as the coming week for OP. Homecoming begins Feb. 22 with comedian Jim Gaffigan. This week OP will be hosting a talent show on Wednesday, lazer tag on Thursday and games on the Green on Friday this week.

Jordan Wilson, College Republicans club treasurer, appeals the previous denial of their travel request on Jan. 30.   Photo by Morgan Purvis
Jordan Wilson, College Republicans club treasurer, appeals the previous denial of their travel request on Jan. 30.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

UNF’s College Republicans club appealed the denial of their travel request to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C. At the Budget and Allocations Committee meeting on Jan. 30, their request was denied due to an inadequate presentation and an unclear representation of the money being requested, according to the Senate. Club Treasurer Jordan Wilson requested $1705.83 for the trip and was adamant about the trip’s benefit to club members and the university. The club’s appeal went through and the club was awarded the full amount requested for the trip.

Budgets and Allocations Committee Chair Blake Kennedy reported on the balance of the travel and special request budgets. After the approval of the College Republican’s request, the travel budget’s total is $3,198.50. The special request budget total is $225,342.50.

Several students saw confirmation into new positions.* Senator Matthew Harris was confirmed as the new Club Alliance executive director with 26 votes to three. Abby Goetz, a freshman majoring in business marketing, was confirmed as SG’s digital coordinator unanimously.

Disorder in the court

Just before the Senate discussed the budget, Dr. Brian Thornton, UNF communication professor, attempted to speak out of turn despite not being on the agenda. He said he sent Senate President Chase Baker an email asking for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Spinnaker, but was denied due to the busy agenda.

After several minutes of heated discussion, Baker asked Thornton to leave after Senator Sergeant-in-arms Jon Rader complained that he couldn’t hear. Thornton said he would leave if he were allowed to come back and speak before the Senate voted on the budget. Baker then asked Rader to escort Thornton out of the room.

Just before leaving, Thornton asked the Senate to vote on whether he could speak or not. Senator Hailey Guerra motioned to add Thornton to guest speakers, and was ultimately given the opportunity to speak.

Meanwhile, Michael McGuire notified campus police, who reported to the scene. Maguire said Dr. Thornton was asked to leave several times. He said it was inappropriate for a professor to be there unless recognized ahead of time. According to Maguire, Dr. Thornton didn’t ask to speak until 2 p.m. that afternoon. Maguire also said that Dr. Thornton’s initial words pressured the senators into letting him speak. The officer called to the scene said because the senators had already voted to add Dr. Thornton to the agenda, they were required to allow him back into the chambers.

Later, Dr. Thornton was invited back into the meeting where he was given three minutes to speak.

Dr. Thornton was invited back into the meeting where he was given three minutes to speak.   Photo by Morgan Purvis
Dr. Thornton was invited back into the meeting where he was given three minutes to speak.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

“I’m just asking you to do two things. One is please consider before you vote on the budget cut very carefully,” Thornton said. “The second thing is give us time…so we can present you with a petition from the communication department faculty.”

Discussing the Budget

The main topic of SG’s senate meeting was the 2015-2016 Activities & Service fee budget. Baker urged attentiveness from the senators before the budget hit the floor.

“Can everyone do me a favor and raise their right hand? Now reach under your chair to the little click thing, push it in, and sit up. We’ve got a big budget coming through, so you’ve got to pay attention,” Baker said.

SenateMeetingFeb9_MorganPurvis1
Four Spinnaker representatives spoke concerning the 2015-2016 budget proposal.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

Led by its student leaders, the Spinnaker attended SG’s senate meeting in order to urge the Senate to modify the proposed budget which would cut Spinnaker’s print division from $47,000 to $27,300. According to Shannon Pulusan, the Spinnaker’s magazine publisher, this cut would prevent the Spinnaker from functioning.

“Spinnaker Media is a news conglomerate. That means each division depends on a newsroom for its news content. Right now the proposed budget does not at all cover the gathering of news, it would just cover print costs alone,” Pulusan said.

 Connor Spielmaker, Spinnaker’s television station manager, also commented on the budget’s effect on the Spinnaker’s functionality.

“While the appearance is that the subscription…strictly pays for the printing of the magazine, that isn’t the case. That money is actually used to pay our student reporters to generate the content,” Spielmaker said. “Right now, the money that is in that line for the subscription will only pay to print the pages, not the content that goes into them. So, effectively you’ll be printing blank pages.”

Passing the budget

Two and a half hours later, the A&S budget hit the floor. After much deliberation, almost entirely centering on the Spinnaker, the budget went to a vote.

“I know this budget like the back of my hand. I feel very, very confident that this is the best budget I could bring before you tonight,” Student Body Treasurer Morgan Wolf said.

The Senate passed the unaltered budget proposal with a roll call vote of 26 – 0 – 2.

“I think we have a product that we can all be proud of,” SG President Joseph Turner said.

Student Government President Joe Turner now has three business days to review the budget. If approved, it will be sent to President Delaney for his approval.   Photo by Jack Drain
Student Government President Joe Turner now has five* business days to review the budget. If approved, it will be sent to President Delaney for his approval.
Photo by Jack Drain

Turner has five business days to review the finalized budget. If he approves the budget, it will be sent to President John Delaney for approval. Delaney will have 15 business days to review the budget change and either finalize or veto the changes.


For more information or news tips, contact Cameron Garrett at [email protected]; if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

2/11/15 at 6:52 p.m. – Corrected with proper title, “Former Attorney General”and information, “appointed”
2/11/2015 at 10:52 p.m. – Corrected with proper wording

*2/12/2015 at 10:45 a.m. – Updated with added video

*2/12/15 at 4:49 p.m. – Corrected with number of days

UPDATE-2/13/15 at 2:16 p.m. – Video added