A Student Government bill was unanimously passed in the Florida Legislature last week that revised a law created in 1998 aimed at student government officers. Under the revisions, elected SG officers would now be removed from office by a recall vote for things such as neglecting their duty, incompetence and conviction of a felony. The bill is now waiting final say from Gov. Jeb Bush.
Mike Griffin, USF’s student body president and Board of Trustee member, said this bill would allow the student governments to take control.
“It used to be that if an officer was in the wrong, the university president would shut down all of SG,” Griffin said. “Our rationale is if the officers do something wrong, they should be accountable as an individual and not SG as a whole.”
FSA is an organization created in 1976 that combines all the elected student governments in the state university system to represent the students at the state legislature.
Each student government funds lobbyists to go to the state legislature and fight for student government and the students.
The previous bill did not give student governments the right to decide the fate of the officer in question.
The bill would provide student governments with internal procedures for the recall election, as well as for the suspension and removal of the officer who has been convicted of a felony.
Griffin said the SG bill also benefits students because it strengthens the student government.
“If something does happen, SG will always be there,” Griffin said. “It is important that it is there so the students have representation and a voice.”
Sammy Kalmowicz, USF’s SG senate president, said the bill now makes the voice of the students a law.
“Student government has always been recognized as the students’ voice,” Kalmowicz said. “As a law, student government can’t be shut down as an entity but (SG) can remove officers.”
Kalmowicz said the bill is not only a good thing for current student governments but for future ones as well.
“It’s a great thing for the students,” Kalmowicz said. “They have more power and more say.”
Griffin said FSA meets once a month around the state to discuss current issues and ideas with all the universities. This bill is one of the many things for which the association fights.
“Right now, we are working on a ‘polling place bill,'” Griffin said. “This would allow college students to change their precinct to their college campus.”
Griffin said, in the last major election, only 12 USF students voted in the USF area, which does not look good for the local county commission and the city council.
“It all comes down to timing,” he said. “This bill has been in discussion since last year, but it may not happen this year.”FSA is also working on a national bill concerning drug offenders applying for financial aid, Griffin said. The bill would allow them to get the aid.
“This bill is important because we want to help those who need help to better their lives,” he said. “But the decision won’t be made or finished until after this state legislature is finished.”Griffin also said FSA is talking about tuition, which is a big issue, as well.
“The legislature will probably propose a 5 percent increase,” he said. “I think that is manageable for the universities to deal with.”
Kalmowicz said this bill is probably the fourth most significant thing to happen for the students.
“The first being the A&S fees, second having a student representative on the Board of Regions and third having the student body president being a member of the Board of Trustees,” Kalmowicz said.
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