During the first meeting of the 50th UCF Student Body Senate, leaders welcomed newly elected senators and outlined institutional issues.
Allocation of funds to Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) was one of the issues discussed Thursday evening.
“Fiscally, we run out of money far too soon, and student organizations in the spring semester are left underfunded and unhappy,” Senate Coordinator Wills Brown said.
The Senate typically runs out of money to allocate to RSOs in February or March. Although groups who apply early enough are funded through the end of the spring semester, he hopes the senate will be able to allocate money through April, Brown said.
The 2017-18 Senate was given a budget of $966,016 for the Financial Allocations for Organizations (FAO) and Conference, Registration and Travel (CRT) committees. Of that, $258,380.89 has been awarded to individual UCF students and RSOs thus far. The balances on these accounts are routinely updated.
In addition to fiscal concerns, problems with Title VI, “The Elections Statutes,” were discussed. Hurricane Irma presented unique challenges related to campaigning and timing of elections.
“Currently, according to the statutes, we can only postpone our election by seven days,” College of Sciences Sen. Joseph Davis said. “Our election was further than that. Our entire election was invalid.”
Title VI doesn’t allow for contingency plans during events such as hurricanes, Assistant Supervisor of Elections Jamal Mays said.
“[Hurricane Irma] reduced the amount of campaigning for students,” Mays, 19, said.
“We really wanted to make sure all students had those days to campaign, but unfortunately it was decided that due to senate being so pushed back, [the election] needed to happen as soon as possible so students could get their funding.”
The Senate Election Commission (SEC) will lobby for changes to Title VI during the Elections and Appointments Committee meetings, Mays, a UCF sophomore majoring in public administration, said.
Spending limits for presidential campaigns, the creation of a specialized senate seat for students with special needs, a class system for Title VI violations, which would deter candidates from breaking additional statutes without fear of consequences, and a clear definition of the ticket process and rules for joint campaigning are among the changes the SEC will propose, he said.
“I encourage regular students, but I really, really encourage people like [news outlets] to come out because you can report back to the students. I think what we’re trying to do this year will be game-changing,” Mays said.
Thursday’s meeting followed the fall senate election that ended Wednesday and left 56 of 66 available senate seats filled.
According to the UCF SEC, 3,477 students voted, which is a 30 percent decrease from last year’s 5,049. Each senator represents 1,000 students, and the number of senators is adjusted annually depending on projected student enrollment, according to Title III of the UCF SGA Constitution.
During the session, College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Sen. Joshua Boloña was voted in as speaker of the senate. Meanwhile, College of Health and Public Affairs Sen. Sierra Scott was elected president pro tempore.
Boloña previously served as president pro tempore and ran for student body president last spring. He has been a senator since May 2015 and is the longest-serving active senator.
He ran for the speaker position against College of Business Administration Sen. Corey Marcous.
During the meeting, Boloña, 21, and Scott, 19, emphasized their desire to help senators fulfill campaign promises.
“I really want to focus as pro tempore on making sure [senators] are able to have these ideas and put them on paper. The job of the pro tempore’s office is to make sure you guys have a voice and a real impact on campus,” Scott said.
Boloña encouraged senators to challenge the status quo at UCF.
“I want you guys to know throughout the session that you were elected, no one appointed you, and you earned your spot here. Use your platform as a senator to go out and complete your chief goals,” he said.
Scott ran for president pro tempore against Davis, a fellow UCF sophomore.
Although this marks her first election, Scott began working with the SGA as a member of the 2016-17 Senate Leadership Council. Since then, she has risen through the ranks of the Senate from a senator in January, to deputy pro tempore over summer and to her current role as president pro tempore.
Scott wants to ensure RSOs understand the funding and registration processes, she said.
“As a member of an RSO that’s beginning myself, I’ve seen the struggle that it is to actually become a registered student organization, and I really want to change that,” Scott said.
Elections and appointments were also held for the six committees. Members of the Financial Allocations for Organizations (FAO), Conference, Registration and Travel (CRT) and Legislative, Judicial and Rules (LJR) Committees were elected. Members of the other three committees — Operations Review (ORC), Elections and Appointments (E&A) and Student Body Advocacy (SBA) — were appointed.
Each committee meets weekly in the SGA Office in the Student Union.
Meetings are open to the public, and the days and times are as follows:
- E&A – Monday, 9 a.m.
- CRT – Monday, 4 p.m.
- LJR – Tuesday, 2 p.m.
- SBA – Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.
- ORC – Tuesday, 3 p.m.
- FAO – Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.