Senate meeting: The official vote on legislation regarding the old skate park

Alan Vargas

*Correction 6/25 9:45 a.m A previous version of this article stated the skate paved was paved over for a cost of $250,000. However, the $250,000 that Student Government paid was for the original skate park in total, not just the concrete slab. Dean Mark Tumeo’s name was also spelled incorrectly as “Tumelo” in the originally published version of this article.

The UNF Senate met on Friday, June 22 to consider a number of pieces of legislation.

Ultimately, the Senate gave no opinion regarding the Coastal Engineering Department’s presence on the concrete slab behind Lot 18, formerly the campus skate park. The Space Committee, who advises the University President on issues of space, will take up the issue, though the ultimate decision will be up to Szymanski.

In 2005, the wooden Skate Park originally cost $250,000 and was falling apart, so Student Government made the decision to pave over it, which created the concrete slab in question today. These costs were paid for using student-paid Service and Activity fees, which are allocated by SG. Student Body President Jenna DuPilka asked the Senate’s opinion on whether or not to allow Coastal Engineering to continue using the space.

The old skatepark behind Lot 18. Photo by Alan Vargas.

According to Dean Mark Tumeo, who spoke against the bill today, a formal agreement was reached with Dr. Mauricio Gonzalez, the Vice President for Student and International Affairs, to use half of the concrete slab through the end of August 2018. Tumelo also stated that if the Coastal Engineering Department is allowed to continue using the space, they would like to “build a permanent wave pool and create a classroom with seating.”

Tumeo continued by saying that the Department received an initial grant which pays for research if we can develop the facility.

“We have the only port engineering program in Florida and UF partners with us for a Ph.D. program because they want to use our facilities,” he said.

Speaking in defense of the bill was Ogier Gardens Director Kevin Anderson, who shared the idea of the Osprey Habitat, which would seek to develop the slab into a space for student recreation and wellness. The concept would use a UNF artist to create a “labyrinth,” which is a flat maze that seeks to create a tranquil space used for meditation and yoga. Anderson also shared that there has been recent discussion with Carlene Taylor, a visiting professor, to develop a therapy animal program on the space.

Senators asked each side multiple questions during their respective presentations and discussed the bill on the floor.

“I will be voting yes on this bill because it’s just formalizing the agreement,” Senator Thomas Johnson said.

Senator Anthony Hall felt differently.

“I will be voting against this because I believe that, although SG has a justified right on the space, at this point it should have been caught long ago, and it would cause further detriment to the student body not having Coastal Engineering in this space,” he explained.

“I’m also opposed to this because I think that if it were to go through, it’s missing the point of university,” Budget and Allocations Chairman Camden Dean added. “The first and foremost goal of a university is to educate, and that is what Coastal Engineering is doing”

After the Senators discussed the bill on the floor, there was no motion to move the legislation to vote, therefore it “died on the floor,” meaning that Senate has issued no opinion and the decision will be made by President Szymanski after hearing recommendations from the Space Committee.

Other legislation that was considered included the Clarification of Removal Process Bill, which cleared up language within a number of statutes in the University Code, updated the number of justices on the Primary Court and allowed for executive staff to be impeached. This bill passed unanimously.

The final piece of legislation was a budget request of $1,500 for the Dance Marathon group to send three students to Indianapolis for their Leadership Summit. The group raises money for the kids of the Children’s Miracle Network and is sending students so that they may learn how to better coordinate a 12-hour event and bring more people to help its cause.

During the meeting, a number of executive and legislative offices gave reports to the Senate.

Vice President Maria Bermudez gave the Osprey Productions report and shared that the Summer B Pool Party will be next Friday, June 29th between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the UNF Clubhouse. There will be water slides, Guanabana Ice Pops and DJ Dr. Doom.

Allister Young, the new Director of Lend-a-Wing, shared that the renovations are complete and the Pantry’s new hours are available on social media channels.

Chief of Staff John Aloszka shared a video made by UNF student Bobby Hessler, which was designed as a promo for Student Government.

Finally, President DuPilka gave her President’s report and shared that a number of her initiatives are moving forward, such as the Syllabus Bank and the Library Wifi improvements. She also shared an upcoming initiative meeting on Thursday, June 28th from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. to hear from students about the library improvement.

The next Student Government Committee meetings and Senate meeting will be held on Friday, July 13th.

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