U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., and his supporters are pushing for a new state university governance system that would oversee all boards of trustees at the 11 state universities. This will be the 11th Amendment Initiative on the Nov.5 ballot.
In the current system the boards of trustees, which are the sole governing bodies for each university, are overseen by the Board of Education.
If passed, the initiative would set up a board of governors, which would be the overseeing body of all 11 boards of trustee.
Alice Skelton, a campaign manager for Graham, said that the board of governors would be made up of 17 citizens from Florida, including the president of the Florida Student Association and the chair of the Advisory Faculty Senate.
Some student voters said they believe the 11th Amendment Initiative would give room for the reinstatement of the Board of Regents, which governed the state’s universities for 36 years.
“The proposed board of governors could possibly be a pseudo Board of Regents that will not be looking out for schools like FAMU’s best interest,” said Dymen Raimer, 20. a third-year computer information systems student from Virginia Beach, Va.
Others students said they hope the initiative will open doors for the university.
“There are some things that could be improved, as far as how the university is operated,” said Stephanie Russell, 20, a third-year elementary education student from Eustis, Fla.
“Hopefully, this new amendment will give us an outlet for improvement and more educational opportunities.”
Citizens began signing a petition last year to get the amendment on the ballot. According to the Secretary of State Katherine Harris, the campaign collected 499,903 signatures, surpassing the minimum requirement of 488,722 signatures.
Skelton said the proposed board would ensure stability for the school, give citizens an opportunity to help with the governing of Florida’s universities, and defeat the competition between the universities for funding. If citizens vote for the 11th Amendment Initiative, it will establish a new state system and become a constitutional amendment, which according to Skelton, cannot be abolished.
“This is not a reinstatement (of the board of regents). We are not going backwards, we are actually going forward, taking good things like the Board of
Trustees and protecting it.”
*For more information on the 11th Amendment
Initiative go to http://www.edexflorida.org