UCF SGA Senate confirms members, awards more than $40,000 in funding

After the meeting, the SGA Senate takes one last photo to commemorate the end of the 49th Session. SGA meeting Sept. 21, 2017. Photo by Layla Ferris.

The UCF SGA Senate confirmed three members and awarded funding to seven student organizations Thursday evening at the last meeting of the 49th session.

The Senate prioritized fiscal legislation despite setbacks from Hurricane Irma, Senate President Pro Tempore Joshua Bolona said. The Senate listened and questioned student organizations at length before voting on whether to award the requested funds.

Some business that would normally span over several meetings was condensed to fit into one.

The second and third reading of fiscal bills, which grant money to Registered Student Organizations, were both accomplished during the meeting. Normally, the second and third reading are discussed at separate meetings.

The second reading is the first time the whole senate sees student organizations’ presentations.

SGA Senate members begin to fill the Key West Ballroom in the Student Union for the last Senate meeting of the 49th Session. SGA meeting Sept. 21, 2017. Photo by Layla Ferris.

 

Fiscal bill 49-115, which would enable 28 Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity International members to travel to the 2017 P.A.D. Pre-Law Conference, Mock Trial Competition and Law School Expo in Arlington, Virginia, from Nov. 1 through Nov. 5, was the most expensive funding request. The bill requested $10,327.03 from the Senate, and Phi Alpha Delta would match the amount SGA granted, according to the Senate’s agenda, making the total cost of the trip $20,654.06. The requested amount was awarded and will go toward registration, lodging and airfare.

Sen. Jeremy Batista for the College of Business Administration said the Phi Alpha Delta proposal was one of the most well-prepared proposals, causing him to be highly in favor of awarding their funds.

The Vietnamese American Student Association received $1,850 to host the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Oct. 5 in the Student Union Pegasus Grand Ballroom. The money will be used for sound, lighting, cultural food and drinks, cultural decorations and photography.

Bolona encouraged the organization to attach cultural meaning and education to each of the food items at the event to discourage students coming for free food alone.

“What we usually try to do,  if anything, is ask [RSOs] to drop down their rates if we feel they are unreasonable,” Bolona said.

College of Undergraduate Studies Sen. Theressa Tong strongly urged her fellow senators to approve the request. Tong’s father started this event years ago.

Tong, 20, a UCF junior studying biomedical sciences and public affairs, with a minor in health sciences, said she plans to run for reelection. She also hopes to continue working with Valencia College East Campus to help improve their SGA Constitution, she said.

“I think the coolest part was seeing the collective ideas, I’m very into diversity of thought, seeing other people’s ideas,” Tong said.

The National Society of Black Engineers requested $5,242.69 to send 35 members to Jackson, Mississippi for the Region III Fall Regional Conference Nov. 2 through Nov. 4. Josh Forrest, the parliamentarian for the organization, presented this proposal to the Senate.

Each organization raises funds to match what SGA will grant them. The National Society of Black Engineers’ contribution is approximately 75 percent complete, Forrest said.

The electrical engineering student didn’t initially expect to get the funding; however, SGA and CRT helped make it possible, Forrest said.

“There’s going to be a lot of people getting really good experience out there,” Forrest said.

Forrest helped organize last year’s conference and said it was one of the best experiences of his life.

A group of members from various student organizations await the Senate’s decision for funding requests. SGA meeting Sept. 21, 2017. Photo by Layla Ferris.

 

All seven fiscal bills passed the second and third readings with very little opposition, totaling an award of $40,425.52. The Trial Team at UCF received $1,007.60 to travel to the 7th Annual Capital City Invitational in Tallahassee, Florida; Sparks Magazine was granted $3,041.65 to hold its 1st Annual Asian and Pacific Islander American Journalism Conference at the Student Union; the Financial Management Association was awarded $9,738 for 30 members to attend a TradersEXPO in Las Vegas; and Club Kreyol received $10,226.15 to attend a NAAHP Conference in New York.

Bolona, 21, did not expect any organizations to be denied due to the extreme vetting process the organizations go through before reaching the senate floor. 

Funding will be officially granted to all seven RSOs when Student Body President Nick Larkins signs them tomorrow. 

In addition to confirming members and approving funds for RSOs, the Senate made alterations to three other pieces of legislation, and all changes go into effect immediately.

Changes were made to Title VIII-The Finance Code. These changes allow the SGA Scholarship Committee to function more efficiently. Four students, instead of the previous two, will be added to the committee, and are appointed by the student body president alone rather than a committee consisting of the president, speaker of the senate and chief justice. The first meeting must be called to order by the first week of the fall semester, not the second week as previously stated.

Updates were made to Title III-The Legislative Branch. Previously, the Internal Legislative Assistant ran the Senate Leadership Council in the fall and spring semesters. Now, the Internal Legislative Assistant will run the Student Government Leadership Council in the fall and the Senate Leadership Council in the spring.

Updates were also made to Senate Rule Nine regarding the Senate Leadership Council. The updates include changes to membership selection and application process that reflect the new schedule for the Student Government and Senate Leadership Council in Title III.

No bill or piece of legislation was denied at the meeting.

However, there were minor hiccups.

iClickers used for electronic voting were not initially cooperating, and a hand-made voting sheet was used. The projector was also not being used in the beginning of the meeting due to technical difficulties, but both issues were quickly resolved.

Sen. Batista suggested voting on the third reading of fiscal bills as a block to save time, but Senate Coordinator Wills Brown feared that might go against statute and advised against block voting.

After several minutes, the decision was made to vote on each fiscal bill individually during the third reading.

Brown, 26, was also filling in for Senate Secretary Paige Bond.

The meeting was stalled further after the late return of several senators after a five-minute recess. Speaker of the Senate Sharon Behar pleaded for professionalism and timeliness during the lull.

Not only were bills and legislation voted for positively, but so were applicants.

Breon Clark became the new Diversity and Outreach Coordinator with a 25-0-0 vote. Clark plans to focus on multicultural, graduate and transfer students to help them get proper representation and resources.

“It’s my job to make everyone who feels diverse to feel included,” Clark said.

Clark is a sophomore studying health sciences. His extensive involvement in clubs and organizations and 4.0 GPA freshman year made him stand out to the Senate. Senators praised Clark for his professionalism and thoroughness demonstrated in his application.

Jamal Mays was unanimously voted in as the new Assistant Supervisor of Election Commission. During his pre-confirmation speech, Mays argued that it is more important to have better-informed students voting in SGA elections rather than a higher number of students voting overall.

Karli McGregor was granted the Election Commissioner position with a 24-0-1 vote. Sen. Jad Shalhoub praised McGregor for her lack of bias and passion.

Larkins made a brief appearance to make an announcement at the start of the meeting. Student Body Vice President Cristina Barreto was not in attendance.

Long-awaited squat racks were added to the RWC, and 431 pieces of food items and other necessities were collected via a food drive, Larkins said.

Additionally, UCF announced a replacement football game today to make up for the Sept. 16 UCF v. Georgia Tech game that was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, Larkins said. UCF will play a home game against Austin Peay State University Saturday, Oct. 28, but the time is currently undetermined, Larkins said.

Senators cheer and applaud as they listen to farewell speeches. SGA meeting Sept. 21, 2017. Photo by Layla Ferris.

After business was taken care of, members of the senate took turns to say emotional farewells, as some of them will not be running for reelection.

Josh Ballard, Senator for the College of Sciences, said he was glad to be a part of SGA. Learning about the different organizations and sharing that information to people who might not have access to it was one of the most rewarding parts, Ballard, 21, said.

Speaker of the Senate Sharon Behar thanked SGA for helping her grow as a person and get rid of insecurities, she said.

“I don’t know how my college experience would have been without the Senate,” Behar said.

Declaration of Candidacy forms are due by Sept. 25, and the Legislative Branch elections run from Oct. 2- Oct. 4. The first official Senate meeting of the 50th Session is on Oct. 5.