Students implored SGA senators Thursday night to support a bill allowing those displaced by Hurricane Maria to have an extension on their in-state tuition.
The UCF Board of Trustees granted the students a semester of in-state tuition in September, but Puerto Rican Student Association President Carlos Rivera is pushing a bill that would add another semester of in-state tuition.
The extra semester would fulfill the 12-month required stay in Florida that allows them to become residents and receive full in-state tuition.
While Rivera was the only speaker during the open forum section of the first UCF SGA Senate meeting of the spring semester, at least 20 displaced Puerto Rican students filled the audience.
Rivera said the BOT and UCF President John C. Hitt plan on revisiting the bill during a BOT meeting next Thursday, but he still needs support from the senate to help the future of the bill stay secure.
“We just want to make sure they discuss it,” Rivera said. “As the student body and the student representatives, we have to a take stance … we want you to be with us and support us.”
Rivera and the Puerto Rican Student Association received a standing ovation and a hug from UCF SGA Student Body President Nick Larkins.
As Larkins made announcements to the senate, he addressed the “white elephant in the room”: the upcoming student body presidential election.
“[UCF SGA vice president] Christina and I aren’t going anywhere. We’re still here,” Larkins said. “We’re not lame ducks. We have three months, four weeks and one day left in office.
“But who’s counting?”
Larkins’ tone changed as he discussed candidate endorsements. Referencing a memo he sent to senate advisors about maintaining “law and order” during the upcoming elections, Larkins said the SGA office and the Office of Student involvement are meant to be neutral during election times. The Focus is awaiting a copy of the memo to verify Larkins’ statement.
Presidential candidates wearing campaign gear within the SGA and OSI offices and SGA members openly endorsing candidates were some recent issues regarding the upcoming election, Larkins said.
He said he plans to crack down on rule violations by issuing censures, a type of formal and public condemnation, against those breaking the rules.
He said he also will take discipline measures one step further by filing violations against candidates caught breaking the rules of the Constitution, such as soliciting votes within the SGA or OSI offices.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- After Larkin’s address, a vote passed to confirm Sharon Behar into the Signover Sciences, Seat 3. Behar, a senate veteran, was the speaker of the senate last spring. The seat is held by Natalie Caballero but is temporarily being taken over by Behar for the next several months while Caballero is away representing UCF in Tallahassee.
- The final resolution proposed that the UCF football team retire jersey No. 18, which belongs to linebacker Shaquem Griffin who will no longer be playing for the team due to graduation. Griffin is known for his accomplishments on the field such as being named the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Defensive MVP and receiving the 2018 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion award, according to his 2017 football roster. The resolution was not voted on as Sen. Jeremy Batista of the College of Business Administration said he was still in contact with UCF Athletics and awaiting a response on the idea.
- The Student Professionals for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SPIOP) organization was awarded $14,051 for 34 members to travel to the 33rd Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Chicago, Illinois, in April. The bill passed unanimously and awarded the most funds of the night.
- Another bill would allocate $3,928.72 to the UCF Student Nurses Association (SNA) to travel to the National Student Nurses’ Association Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in April. SNA of the UCF Daytona campus was awarded $5,689.70 to attend the same conference.
- A bill that would allocate $6,279 for 50 members of American Society of Civil Engineers to travel to the ASCE Southeast Regional Student Conference in Gainesville, Florida, in March also passed unanimously.
- Joseph Torres was confirmed without any objection as the Health and Public Affairs senator. Torres, a junior public administration major, said he transferred from Valencia State College two semesters ago and was the former student body president there.
- Joshua Kogan was confirmed as the Education and Human Performance senator. Kogan, a transfer student from the University of Tampa, said some of his goals are to reduce the amount of parking passes sold to avoid overcrowding by selling passes on a first come, first serve basis. Students who could not purchase a parking pass should carpool, Kogan, a sophomore studying secondary education, said. “I know it has some flaws and is not the best goal on the goal sheet,” Kogan said. “But to be honest, I just think that’s the best way to solve the problem.
- Glennel Verbois was confirmed as the Rosen College of Hospitality Management senator.
- Sarah Siclait was confirmed as the Election Commissioner and said she hopes to change the election process for the better by giving each candidate a fair shot by working with school news outlets to provide fair coverage of each candidate.
The next senate meeting will be on Jan. 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Key West Ballroom in the Student Union on UCF’s main campus.