“If all 13,000 members of our incomparable student body decide one night that they all want to exercise their three minutes to speak, they would be empowered to do so.”
The aforementioned is a portion of a new bill passed by the student senate to remove the cap on the amount of students allowed to address the student senate during community forum.
Community forum, point H on the senate’s weekly agenda, allows “any non-senator, member of the Florida A & M University community address the senate on any issue concerning student life. Each community/student speaker is permitted to address the senate for up to three minutes, which can be extended indefinitely.”
Prior to the passing of the bill, senate statue limited community forum to three student speakers. However, the 32nd student senate has not adhered to statue in an effort to be more accessible to students.
The author of the bill, senior senator Travis Williams believes that it is only right that any number of students is allotted the opportunity to address the senate since the $10 per credit hour they pay goes to A&S funding.
In his address urging senators to pass the bill, Williams said, “I can’t go home and sleep at night knowing that one of my constituents has not been afforded the opportunity to express a grievance or concern.”
Not every senator agreed with Williams. Freshmen senator Tara Crawford said, “I have a life outside of student government.”
Crawford felt valuable time would be wasted because of student’s tendencies to “ramble.” She feels this time should be used for more pertinent issues.
Freshman senator Ramon Alexander believes that by passing the legislature, the senate has “opened the flood gates to maximize attention to one responsibility and minimize attention to other responsibilities.”
Alexander offered an example. “Let’s say the budget is up for discussion and some large student group decides to come and express concerns. We would be there all night long and hadn’t addressed the budget.”
Junior senator James Harris said he “doesn’t have a problem staying all night because that is what he is paid to do, listen to student’s concerns.”
He added that this bill is a conscious effort to make the senate more student-friendly.
Williams urges students to see the purpose of the bill and take full advantage of their rights. He also hopes that the bill will relieve the stigma of “students being intimidated by the swagger of some student officials.”
Williams declared that the bills only reiterates that “student government is for you, by you, to serve you.”