UCF SGA debates Leadership Week speaker fees, awards more than $9,000

UCF SGA senators discussed a highly debated bill at Thursday’s Senate meeting that would award more than $9,000 to the LEAD Students Association (LSA) to host its annual Leadership Week at UCF.

The LSA’s mission is to establish an environment that will provide avenues for comprehensive leadership, education and development opportunities for the UCF community, according to the LSA website.

Leadership Week includes lectures, programs and workshops that are meant to create, identify and commemorate leadership at UCF.

The Senate was concerned with the amount of money going toward the guest speaker, Jane Elliott, who is an internationally known lecturer and teacher. Elliott is best known for her “Blue eyes-Brown eyes” exercise, which was conducted to show racial prejudice and stereotyping. Her research showed people will favor those with blue eyes, who are typically white, more than those with brown eyes, who are typically people of color.

Her appearance alone costs $14,000, which is roughly three times the cost of the other amenities such as promotional items, banners and fliers. The Senate would contribute a total of $9,403.49 to help fund the LSA Leadership week.

College of Health and Public Affairs Sen. Rick Schoppe, 19, opposed the bill.

“I have no problem with focusing on one speaker instead of multiple speakers throughout the week, my issue is with access because she is not going to be speaking in a room that I think validates the cost,” Schoppe, a UCF health science major, said.

Despite the disagreement, the bill was passed with a 32-7-0 vote with the help of advocations from College of Medicine Sen. Christopher Hazen, 22.

“[Jane Elliott] is a world renowned [teacher] and her being a speaker would be a big deal for this school,” Hazen, a UCF biomedical major, said.

The total amount of money awarded for all five fiscal bills was $39,614.11, and will be given to each respective Registered Student Organization, also known as RSO, that applied for the bills.

Real Estate Academic Leaders received $5,753.95 to travel to ICSC RECon in Las Vegas, Nevada; $8,575 was awarded to the Chabad Jewish Center Group to host the Shabbat 1000 in the Pegasus Ballroom in the Student Union; Chabad Jewish Center Group also received $9,500 to host Passover 2018 at Chabad at UCF; and the Nonprofit Knights received $6,381.67 to travel to the Alliance Management Institution in Kansas City, Missouri.

All five fiscal bills, along with four resolutions, passed third reading; after a bill passes all three readings, it needs to be approved by Student Body President Nick Larkins and Student Body Vice President Cristina Barreto before being finalized.

College of Arts and Humanities Sen. Antoine Fields, 19, explained the difference between a bill and a resolution.

“A bill is giving funding to like an RSO or something that is fiscal or business, and a resolution is like a petition, but more official,” the political science and history major said.

Resolution 50-04 passed in favor of increasing student-paid resources in the UCF Ceramics program such as increasing the open studio availability, and Resolution 50-07  is working to allow international exchange students to remain in on-campus housing during winter break.

Resolution 50-05 supports the creation of Transportation Services for students with limited mobility, but still needs to be sent to higher authority figures such as President John C. Hitt and Vice President of Student Development and Enrollment Services Maribeth Ehasz for approval.

Resolution 50-06 will update Rule Seven of Senate Absences, which means that starting Jan. 1, 2018, senators must submit an email with reasoning and evidence for absence.

Although tonight’s meeting adjourned at 11:01 p.m., a Nov. 2 meeting lasted until after 1 a.m. this semester.

Speaker of the Senate Josh Boloña, 21, discussed the importance of efficiency at Senate meetings and discussed why they can last longer than expected.

“The most important thing is that we have an extremely motivated Senate, we [have] a lot of outreach going to the RSOs so we are getting a lot of fiscal bills to fund these RSOs; we are getting a lot of internal rule changes to make SGA better overall, so all these things added up are already going to take a lot of time,” Boloña said.

Boloña, a UCF industrial engineer major, explained that focusing on technicalities such as grammatical errors in the wording of bills takes up too much time.

“When I am talking about efficiency, [it] is to make sure [the Senate] reads over things they submit so we focus on the merit of our business rather than the technical wording of stuff so we can be as effective as possible,” Boloña said.

There will be no senate meeting next Thursday due to Thanksgiving break, but the meetings will resume the following week.

The next UCF SGA Senate meeting will be held in the Student Union Cape Florida Ballroom on UCF’s main campus on Thursday, Dec. 1.