Student Government (SG) will begin the election process today for students to vote on a new consolidated constitution in order to integrate the three separate SGs into one unified organization.
The voting will be open to all 50,000 students across all campuses — Sarasota-Manatee, St. Pete and Tampa.
Voting will take place at the Marshall Student Center and the library from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 19-20. There will be food and promotional items at the polling stations. The results are expected to be finalized by Thursday.
SG allocated about $17 million in Activity and Service (A&S) fees to student organizations and departments on the Tampa campus this year. Past efforts have included hiring Homecoming artists and partnering with the ride-sharing service, Uber, to give students discounted rides.
If voted by the student body, the consolidated constitution will go into effect May 11, 2020, for the 61st SG term and will replace the three separate constitutions currently in place at each campus.
Salud Martinez, the SG Senate President, encourages students to “vote yes” because of the effects it could have on the student body.
“If students do not participate and pay attention to this election it could result in an (SG) they are not confident in,” Martinez said in an email to The Oracle.
The new constitution explains the different roles of campus representatives in each branch of government and how they will be implemented in decision-making processes.
The mandate explains that the executive board would include a Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee governor. The Senate would be composed of representatives from each of the campuses with five guaranteed seats per campus and leaving the other 45 seats set according to student enrollment percentages at each campus.
Legislative powers would include an elected Tampa, St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee council.
The Supreme Court would be comprised of five justices from the Tampa campus, two from the St. Pete campus and two from the Sarasota-Manatee campus to make a total of nine justices.
Martinez encourages all students to vote to take advantage of what he believes the consolidation process will offer students.
By voting yes, students may be granted additional majors, student scholarship access, support for study abroad, expanded access to student organizations and athletic opportunities, according to SG social media.
“This constitution was a joint effort between all three campuses,” Martinez said. “We hope that students will show out and vote for an (SG) that will have their best interest at heart and represents them to the best of their abilities.”
The same software used for all previous elections will continue to be used, according to Martinez. The software, VoteNet, will be accessible online or in person at all polling locations.
“It is extremely important that students are able to vote online to ensure that all of our students have a chance to vote and not just the ones who can make it on campus to vote in person,” Martinez said. “VoteNet allows our advisers to ensure that only USF students are voting and that they are only voting once to ensure the most reliable results possible.”
In order for the new consolidated constitution to take effect, a majority vote of “yes” will need to take place. However, if students choose to vote no, Martinez said it will not discourage SG.
“It is our duty as (SG) members to listen to the voices of the students who elected us,” Martinez stated. “We will go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate decisions.”