Student Government (SG) moved one step closer to consolidating its three governing entities across the Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee campuses after passing its constitution during a Senate meeting Tuesday night.
Senators discussed a draft of the SG constitution, which has to be approved by all three campuses before the Oct. 25 deadline. The constitution was approved by a unanimous vote, with 42 in favor and zero opposed.
The constitution, which outlined the structure of a consolidated student government with one president and vice president representing all three campuses, and federal and local governments, was voted on and approved Monday at St. Pete, while Sarasota-Manatee will vote Wednesday.
Once the constitution is officially approved on all three campuses, it will be sent to USF President Steve Currall and Provost Ralph Wilcox for approval. Then, the student bodies of each campus will vote Nov. 19-20 at on-campus polling stations or online.
If approved by the student body, it is then sent to the Board of Trustees (BOT).
On Oct. 11, SG leadership held a meeting to present the new constitution to members of the senate. The meeting showcased the branches of SG post-consolidation.
Associate Justice Kate Gehlen highlighted the importance of having to balance “equality and equity” when drafting the resolution as a way to represent all the campuses’ best interests.
“There were equality and equity taken into account in every single decision made and word placed in the constitution,” Gehlen said. “Every single campus did everything in their power to make sure that their student body was heard to the best of their abilities.”
During the discussion, Sen. Bryce Connolly asked about the concerns of the St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee representatives regarding consolidation and how they are being addressed.
According to Tampa Student Body President Britney Deas, issues pertaining to a fair number of seats in the judicial branch for each campus were raised by other campuses.
They originally attempted to use percentages based on each campus’ population to calculate the number of associate justices for each judicial branch.
But, based solely on percentages, Tampa would have had seven associate justices while both St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee would have had one each.
Because of the low outcomes for the other campuses, it was agreed that Tampa will have five associate justices and both other campuses will have two each.
“A lot of people contributed to this constitution,” Deas said. “We all lost something but we all gained something, and that’s what compromise is.
“There was a compromise from our end in order to have what is most fair to everyone.”
In regards to the legislative branch, Sen. Carlo Cabrera questioned the rationale behind the establishment of the number of seats in the Senate assigned to each campus.
As a way to generate more representation from all campuses, the Senate will consist of 60 senators representing all three campuses, where each campus will have a guaranteed five seats.
The remaining 45 seats will be based on population percentage, according to Tampa Senate President Salud Martinez.
Without the constitution, Sarasota-Manatee would have had one-half senators while St. Pete would have had three senators, based on population.
Currently, Sarasota-Manatee has seven senators and St. Pete has 12 representing their student body, according to Martinez.
“This took a long time to draft,” Martinez said. “There were endless long meetings and discussions that we all had and this is what every campus was comfortable on passing. Every campus compromised. Not one campus overruled each other. Everything that’s in this constitution was agreed upon by all sides.”