SG lobbying efforts to address guns on campus, two associate justices three senators sworn in at Senate meeting

Jeremy Collard

Three new senators and two justices were sworn in by the Chief Justice.  Photo by Jeremy Collard
Three new senators and two justices were sworn in by the Chief Justice.
Photo by Jeremy Collard

At the Sept. 28 Student Government (SG) Senate meeting, Vice President Jordan Wilson reported to senators that preliminary discussions with Southern Strategy lobbyist and former UNF Student Government President Matt Brockelman included talks on carrying concealed guns on campus.

According to Wilson, legislation to allow guns on college campuses is currently being addressed in Tallahassee, and Brockelman would represent UNF’s position on that issue.

“The UNF Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors have fought against this in the past, and there will be stronger opposition against it this year,” Wilson said. “We want, as an administration, Student Government support and the student body support before we act in Tallahassee.”

Wilson also stated that lobbying efforts may be directed at obtaining Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funding in the $11 million dollar range. PECO, a program established in 1963 by the Florida Board of Governors, funds building construction and maintenance projects for public universities.

According to a Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research press release, the current PECO funding appropriated, as of Aug. 2015, sat at $419.10 million dollars.  The $11 million dollars sought by UNF, if lobbying efforts succeed, would be used to renovate buildings three and four. There, new lab facilities would be constructed.

“The problem we have at UNF, being on a wildlife sanctuary, is that we can’t build out,” said President Hailey Guerra, “so we need to build up. Buildings three and four are the oldest on campus, so renovations, mostly labs, would be directed to those buildings.”

Three potential senators were also addressed during the meeting, as a senate vote would mark the final step of approval before taking office. Senior Kristoff Nicholson, freshman Seth Johnson and freshman Nina Lee were each questioned on Senate floor.

When at the senate podium, candidate Nicholson spoke on transparency and due diligence as a senator.

“In the UNF constitution, it says that there can be one assistant director position funded for Osprey Productions, and currently there are two,” Nicholson said. “That is illegal, and what I want to know, is why haven’t current senators asked any questions about that?”

According to Nicholson, current members of SG and SG advisers have stated that they are working on remedying that situation, but nothing has yet been established.

Senator Christopher Jordan applauded Nicholson, and urged senate members to approve the candidate.

“It took a lot of courage to stand up and hold us accountable, especially in this setting,” Jordan said. “I encourage my colleagues to approve Mr. Nicholson.”

All three senate candidates were unanimously approved, and would potentially hold that seat through the end of the spring semester.

Two new associate justices, Trafenia Salzman and Joseph Abdel-Malak, were also approved by senate and were later sworn in by Chief Justice Benjamin Jaeger.

“This will be my first opportunity to serve and administer fairness to the students and the school,” Abdel-Malak said. “The law is written, and when conflicts arise I want to administer fairness not only to the students but to what is written in the constitution as well.”

Senate will break into committees on Oct. 5 beginning at 5:30 pm.

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