SG Senate passes the ‘SKYS Termination Bill’

Julia Croston, Government Reporter

(Updated 12:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 2)

During the final Senate meeting of the semester, Student Government (SG) met to determine the future of the Students Keeping You Safe (SKYS) program. With a close vote, SG Senate passed the bill after potential liability and financial issues were brought to the attention of Senators. 

The bill was created and fully backed by the executive branch. Student Body President Selma Besirevic read her executive order calling for the termination of the program. After, Student Body Vice President (VP) Johnny Grosso read the SKYS Termination Bill before opening the floor for questions. 

“From conversations with General Counsel and Environmental Health and Safety, concerns have been expressed regarding the liability, sustainability, and safety of this program for our student drivers and students we serve,” the bill states. 

Student Body President Besirevic and Student Body Vice President Grosso present the SKYS Termination Bill to Senators during their Nov. 19 meeting in the Senate Chambers. (Julia Croston)

Ideally, SKYS would be an effective way to keep students safe, however, SG does not want to be legally responsible for unforeseen emergency situations due to the use of student drivers and golf carts. According to SG, the insurance to keep SKYS running would cost around $1 million annually which has a significant impact on the budget. The funds put aside for SKYS could be used elsewhere, and SG wants to maintain fiscal responsibility. 

The program was halted after briefly running in Spring 2021. SG believes the agency was launched prematurely and cannot be altered to create a safer outcome. 

SG cannot guarantee the program would be completely safe due to unforeseen circumstances. The bill cited the potential for “scenarios such as intoxication, sexual assault, severity of any injury, etc.” While the student drivers would be trained, they would still be students lacking in professional emergency training and qualifications to actually keep other students safe. Student Body Vice President Grosso expressed how the risk of the program outweighs the reward. 

For now, no alternative agency or program with the same goal will take the place of SKYS. Some Senators discussed the possibility of working to alter the program without full termination. In response, President Besirevic encouraged the passionate Senators to explore new options in the future but expressed doubt that changes to the program could be made in time under the current administration. 

Student Government Senators sit in the Senate Chambers during their Nov. 19 meeting to discuss, among other matters, terminating the SKYS Agency. (Julia Croston)

Besides SKYS, there are other programs at UNF to keep students safe including the University Police Department (UPD) Safety Ranger program, Osprey Connector shuttles, and a 24-hour emergency hotline. UPD has liability insurance and a “larger budget” than SG, according to numerous Senators in the meeting. The Osprey Connector has longer hours and would be faster than SKYS. 

During the discussion, Senators passionately shared reasoning for both outcomes. Some Senators brought up the Jan. Osprey Voice, reminding SG of student discomfort with UPD, but other members of SG felt the survey did not accurately represent the entire student population. Others believe SKYS should be terminated and instead used as a stepping stone for a better, more reliable program. 

With a 12-0-5 vote, the Senate ultimately terminated SKYS, narrowly meeting the two-thirds voting requirement. Members of the executive branch looked relieved to see the bill pass. 


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