Student government to address on campus harassment, parking issues

Emily Echevarria, Student government reporter

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The University and Student Affairs Committee of student government met Friday, Sep.13 to revise proposed legislation addressing harassment from visitors on campus.

Most students will recall the viral video from February of this year, where a preacher visiting campus yelled, “It’s not okay to be gay,” among other discriminatory remarks, at a student. While this video garnered attention by making the rounds on Twitter, it is not an isolated incident. Students have increasingly reported feeling uncomfortable on campus due to the presence of visiting preachers or religious groups, and it has created an uneasy environment for UNF.

 In response, student government sent out an Osprey Voice survey that had over 600 responses regarding opinions on visiting religious groups. The survey showed that 83.9 percent of students that responded are made uncomfortable by the preachers and speakers on campus. Based on the results and the general attitude of students, senators decided to draft legislation to address the issue. 

This issue isn’t an easy one to fix, though. It involves state and federal law, freedom of speech, and other universities that are experiencing similar problems. Outdoor areas on campus, like the Green, are designated free speech zones, where the rights of groups to gather and share their ideas are protected. It’s a tough line to walk, and student government has had to be creative in finding ways to protect our campus’ safe atmosphere for students, while not infringing on the First Amendment. 

Though its been months in the making, the University and Student Affairs Committee finalized a draft of a joint resolution to address the issue of harassment by visitors to Florida State University Campuses on Friday afternoon. The resolution will be introduced in Senate next Friday, Sept. 20, and from there it will be sent on to other Florida schools to attempt to combat the issue on the state level. 

Also discussed in the meeting was the campus-wide frustration with finding parking. Senators were concerned with the idea that students who may pay for a Blue lot pass but have to park in Grey lot, are late to class due to the lack of parking, and whether or not students were aware of the process to appeal a parking ticket. 

The USA Committee worked on drafting an Osprey Voice survey on parking to gauge student experience and attitudes regarding parking, in hopes that the data will aid them in finding a solution. Spinnaker will keep you updated as more information unfolds.

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