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Vote no for Amendment 12

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 00:10

Amendment 12, pitched by USF graduate Rep. Shawn Harrison, is not good for the students at USF — nor for students across the state.

The bill sounds good in its purported attempt to remove “pay to play” democracy that would no longer make the president of the Florida Student Association (FSA) the automatic representative to the Board of Governors (BOG), but instead allow the Governor-appointed BOG to assemble a council of student body presidents and select a representative from there.

Supposedly, this would increase the likelihood of any school being selected as the BOG representative as opposed to FSA, which until 2011 required schools to pay an $8,500 registration fee.

But FSA has since waived the fee, and the only university that is not a member is Florida State University. Voting yes on this amendment would simply give the BOG, and thus by extension the Governor, more direct control in selecting who exactly the student representative on the BOG is.

With the Florida Senate dominated by University of Florida and FSU alumni — 37 and 27 respectively, compared to USF’s six — and three out of four of Gov. Rick Scott’s cabinet members being UF alumni, is it reasonable to wonder whether the Governor’s influence will be reflective of the best interest for all schools?
While the process remains unclear in the full text of the amendment as to how the representative will be selected, even if the position rotates between universities each year, it works against the very point of student representation in the first place.

The student representative brings a very unique perspective to the BOG: one that is to be the voice of students at every state university. But student voice cannot be effectively expressed if it is the governor, as opposed to the students, who have selected a representative.

The governor, who appoints the remainder of the BOG, does not influence the selection of the faculty representative and thus should not have a say in what the student voice on the Board looks like as well.

The system in place has served the BOG well since its inception. Even if it has its flaws, it should be left to the FSA — and the students of Florida — to sort out a solution. The BOG should not be able to wield its influence into swaying what should be student decisions on the Board.

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