udent Senate made history by conducting this week’s senate meeting on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives at the Florida State Capitol on Monday.
The event, aimed at exposing students to the business of the House of Representatives, did not have as many students or senators present.
“It’s the end of the academic year and many students are bogged down and I know some senators are sick,” said Senate President Asia McFarland, “but that’s still no excuse for not planning according and fulfilling your obligations. This was a great opportunity for us to be represented and you want to have the best turn out for events like this.”
The senate was five members shy of having a full quorum of seventeen senators. This caused major delays in the meeting as senators sparred over whether to wave the rule for quorum or cancel the meeting.
“I didn’t feel that amount of senators in attendance was enough to speak on behalf of the student body,” said Freshman Senator Sean Siders, who voted not to wave the rule for quorum which would have cancelled any voting on issues for the meeting. “The event was publicized and senators were given ample time by our senate president…ignorance is no excuse.”
Eventually the senate voted to wave the rule for quorum and continue with the meeting but not before being addressed by the host of the meeting Rep. Allan Williams (D-Fla.).
“I was hoping I’d be speaking to a lot more senators but hopefully this is will become and annual event where we can bring you into your building [the State Capitol] to conduct business,” said Williams. “FAMU is the bedrock for activism in Florida… don’t take lightly the place you sit in.”
Williams encouraged students to become an active voice in the decisions being made at the capitol.
“Reach out to other student senates around the state and mobilize them to speak,” said Williams. “I’m fighting against Senate Bill 2442 which would name the University of Florida the flagship university of the state.”
According the legislation, a flagship university is a research institution that is has “a global perspective and impact” and can compete with other flagship universities on a national scale.
“This would allow UF to develop their own individual standards and not follow standards set by the Board of Governors,” said Williams. “We shouldn’t falter that type of spirit within the university system. We don’t want to single out one university because they had a great football team… we need to make sure all schools get to the same level.”
City Commissioner Andrew Gillum was also present to congratulate the senate on hosting the meeting at the House of Representatives. Gillum served in FAMU’s 30th Student Senate.
“I envy you all, I never had opportunity to do this,” said Gillum. “We are in very tough times in the state of Florida… keep an open mind and be ready to move when the time calls for it.”
The senate did take care of most of the business on the agenda, which included confirming Associate Chief Justice Bridget Gaitor and Justice Jory Burks for traffic court.
Gaitor said she has plans to renew the relationship between parking services and traffic court.
“Parking services doesn’t understand why we are here don’t understand why students are able to appeal parking tickets twice,” said Gaitor. “We plan on having a meeting twice a month to let them know what’s going on and to correct the wrongs of parking attendants, like ticketing after hours.
Due to time constraints, the senate did move to recess so that they could relocate the meeting to the FAMU Senate Chambers. There, the senate voted not to confirm Kashif Smiley as Chief Justice and they approved the Activities & Service fee budget. After SGA President Gallop Franklin revisions to the original budget, the final budget is $3.4 million.
“Now we are waiting for the budget to go before the Board of Trustees on Thursday for final approval,” said Senate President Iman Sandifer.
By the end of the meeting, the senate did reach quorum and completed all the business on the agenda “This was great opportunity for the senate,” said Sandifer. “When we do this event again, hopefully we can find a better way to accommodate senator transportation needs to increase participation.”