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Final Spring Senate meeting: Divest UNF bill postponed; eight bills passed; senators sworn in

Senate President Chase Baker and Senator Katherine Thames decided to postpone Student Government’s declaration of support for Divest UNF because they felt the meeting’s agenda was too full.

“We’ve decided to table the bill until the Fall so all the parties are represented equally and have their chance to speak in senate and we can all make an extremely informed vote,” said Katherine Thames, the bill’s sponsor.

Students supporting Divest UNF attended the Senate meeting to hear the co-authors of the bill Natalie Sassine and Ashleigh Elkins speak.

Elkins said the bill went through “several corrections and critiques” over the course of the semester and expected it to be heard tonight.

“I know that SGA is supposed to represent the student body, but I feel like we’ve been suppressed and silenced,” Elkins said. “I believed more in this [process]. It has kind of gone through a little unprofessionally and my club is not very happy with how this went about.”

Natalie Sassine, co-author of the bill, said, “This is a movement that is pulling investment from the fossil fuel industry. It’s part of a larger movement that would get us off fossil fuels.”

Divest UNF outlined three goals in the bill: For the UNF foundation to freeze new spending in the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies, withdraw funds related to fossils fuels in five years, and to seek alternative options for investment.

The UNF Foundation is a nonprofit organization that collects donations to financially support the university.

Treasurer of the UNF Foundation Shari Shuman said in a phone conversation that the university does not know the specific amount of money spent on fossil fuels, as that information is made private by UNF’s investment firm, Perella-Weinberg.

“UNF has made efforts to be environmentally responsible,” Shuman said. Examples of this include: the university replacing vending machines, repairs to the irrigation system, and transitioning into a smoke-free campus.

Shuman said the UNF Foundation found out about the Divest UNF bill Tuesday and was unable to find a representative from the Foundation for the senate meeting.

Had the declaration of support passed in the Senate, it would have been sent to President Delaney, the Board of Trustees and the UNF Foundation.


Senate passed eight bills, three of which overrode vetoes put in place by former-Student Body President Hailey Guerra, who did not attend the senate meeting.

Guerra’s only objection to “Title III Adjustments,” was that the Executive branch publish their policies and procedures.

Attorney General Dana Baker spoke on behalf of Guerra, “Hailey’s thoughts were, and I also agree, we have all the other branches have to have a policies and procedures and they’re not as strictly dictated as this legislation is written.”

Baker said the document would be public record. She said the legislative branch has a published policies and procedures while the judicial branch does not.

“She [Guerra] didn’t want them [Executive branch] to have special treatment compared judicial or legislative branch,” Baker said.

The Senate removed the requirement and an amended version of the bill passed 27-0-2.

The Senate voted to override former-president Guerra’s vetoes of the “Vacancy Solution” (26-0-4) and the “Conflict of Interest” bill (30-0-0).

In the “Vacancy Solution,” the Government Oversight Committee selects one appointee from a pool of candidates to forward to Senate for confirmation if there was only one seat available. The “Conflict of Interest” stated that members in position that affect the election must relinquish their seats if they run for election.

Baker said that after a talk with Guerra, they decided that both of the vetoes should be overturned by the Senate.

Interfaith Center

The Senate approved a $10,925 request from the Student Union fund balance to renovate offices on the first floor of the Student Union East building.

Director of Student Union Administration John Simms said the renovations were to expand offices for the Interfaith Center. This involves knocking down a wall to use space that is currently a storage area.

“There is a need for the Interfaith Center to have additional space,” Simms said. “Basically they’re creating extra offices out of the office space that’s there, so that way the Interfaith Center can preside in this building.”

With offices in the Student Union, Simms said the Interfaith Center would be able to provide its services more easily to the student body.

The Interfaith Center is currently in the Founder’s Hall (building 2).

Simms said he expects the changes to occur before the Fall semester.

New (and old) Faces

FullSizeRender (2)
Senators being sworn in. Photo by Jordan Bebout

To conclude the meeting, the twenty senators appointed in the Spring were sworn in. The Senate now has an official quorum of 36 senators for the Summer semesters.

Senators elected the Legislative Cabinet as follows (elected in bold with vote totals):

Senate President- Dallas Burke(uncontested)

Senate President Pro-Tempore/ Constitution and Statutes- Sami Mims(25) Vaughn Sayers(9)

Budget and Allocations- Christopher Jordan(23) and Thomas Beaucham(11)

University and Student Affairs- Ania Cajuste(22) and Muhammad Ali Awan(11)

Government Oversight- Warren Butler(17) Katherine Thames(16)


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

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