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SG senate ousts A&S fees resolution

USF Student Government senate voted to take a resolution – which could have jeopardized funding for student organizations – off the senate floor at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Fiscal Responsibility Resolution no longer exists, senate president Jennifer Belmont said at the meeting. However, it can be amended and brought back to the senate floor as a new resolution.

Senators said they did not want to vote on the resolution because representatives from the Office of Student Organizations had not spoken at a senate meeting.

Belmont said the office’s director Edna Jones Miller and former director Regina Young Hyatt planned to speak at the meeting Tuesday, but they had a time conflict.

Attorney General Cordell Chavis said the senate does not have any authority over student organizations.

“If the Office of Student Organizations were to do that, it could be potentially limiting things like freedom of speech and the right to organize,” Chavis said.

Senator Christopher Biemer, the author of the resolution, first introduced it to the senate last month.

SG does not have the power to “mandate student entities,” Biemer said.

He said the resolution did not order any sort of merger of organizations that are independently funded.

A resolution given to the Oracle prior to Tuesday’s meeting says: “To review … for the purpose of making recommendations to merge as far as funding is concerned.”

On Monday Biemer said “perhaps we start looking at merging different student organizations’ budgets.”

But in the resolution released at Tuesday’s meeting, the proposal for merging was removed and said organizations could remain “distinct” from all other student-paid Activity and Service (A&S) funded organizations.

Senator Lara McDermott said the Office of Student Organizations already requires student groups to review and update their mission statements at least every three years.

Members from different student organizations showed up to the meeting.

Because mission statements are updated, the resolution was “pointless,” said Nadine Marcelin, a senior majoring in philosophy, who is a member of Black Student Union at USF.

“So what’s the point of this resolution?” Marcelin said.

Silvia Soto Avella, the president of the Cuban American Student Association, said the senate should get more input from students about the resolution, “especially on such a heated topic.”

“I think we need to listen more to what (students) have to say,” Soto Avella said. “I think this is a very drastic resolution.”

Chavis said the senate should redo the process in which it allocates money in general instead of proposing a resolution “that looks almost like a political stunt.”

“We all know that it’s very easy to write a resolution … as opposed to putting down the time and energy to actually look at the issue,” Chavis said.

Eric Reiter, director of the A&S Business Office, said the resolution wasn’t going to change how the senate allocates money to student organizations.

“We never fully fund student organizations,” Reiter said. “We have a limited amount of money, that’s true, but we always have.”

SG is responsible for allocating over $11 million in A&S fees. Belmont said there are about 300 A&S fee-funded student organizations.