Bearing gifts, Student Government took student politics to the people Wednesday. The first BULLSit session, replete with chairs and blankets on the lawn and free refreshments, provided students with an opportunity to voice their concerns directly to SG senators.
The inaugural BULLSit consisted of both informal one-on-one chats and a formal question and answer session. Fifteen student senators and Mike Griffin, student body president, were present at the session held from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the lawn outside Cooper Hall. Parking, the price of on-campus food and SG’s vote supporting the termination of tenured professor Sami Al-Arian were among the issues raised by participating students.
BULLSit sessions are scheduled to take place bi-weekly with future sessions focusing on specific issues of interest to students.
Josef Norgan, senator for the College of Arts and Sciences, said the sessions would allow SG to reach more students than those attending SG meetings.
“We felt that by putting this out here in a highly visible spot on campus, it gives people a way to interact with us more easily than coming to one of our senate meetings,” Norgan said. “We felt that we need to get a lot more opinion. We need to see it, face to face with our students.”
Byran Polson, student concerns chairman for SG, said meeting students was essential for the success of SG.
“We need to get out here and get more opinions and input. After that, Student Government becomes more efficient, more popular, more legitimate as a whole,” Polson said.
Griffin said BULLSit was an important forum for both SG and students.
“The most important thing is that people become energized,” Griffin said. “There are no political affiliations here – we’re all pro student, we all want a better USF.”
During the formal question and answer session senior Musat Alyahin, asked why SG had passed a motion in favor of firing Al-Arian.
SG senator Yousef Turshani said at the time the vote was conducted, the senate had not heard both sides of the story.
“When it came to the voting, there was a group that felt that what (President Judy) Genshaft said, and the legal procedures that happened, were substantial enough to vote yes, and there was another camp of us that thought that we should abstain altogether because we didn’t hear the other side,” Turshani said.
Turshani said SG was considering whether they would discuss the Al-Arian issue again.
Another student asked if there was anything SG could do to lower the price of food on campus.
Griffin said that it was difficult for SG to affect food pricing, but that they were trying to improve the quality of food served in residence halls and to give students the option to use their meal plan tickets at satellites such as Subway or the Marshall Center.
Following the question and answer session SG senators spent the remainder of BULLSit speaking to students individually.Polson said the inaugural BULLSit was a success.
“Not only did we get a lot of participation from all the senators, but we got a lot more participation than I thought from students,” Polson said. “We must have had 30 students out here. To me, that is absolute success. Who knows? Someday, maybe this might be called BULLSit Plaza, here on Cooper Hall.”
Junior Ben Wiles said the sessions illustrated SG’s willingness to listen to students.
“I have never seen any student body activity at all, and now they are out here – it’s a step if nothing else,” Wiles said.
Non-participating students sitting close by exemplified the apathy SG is trying to combat.
Junior Jessica Driggers said the activities of the SG had no relevance for her.
“I have no idea what it is. I don’t really care, I just want to graduate and get out of here,” she said.
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