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SG consolidation draft off to a positive start

The draft framework offers a flexible structure to experiment with local versus system-wide control.  ORACLE PHOTO

On Oct. 11, Student Government (SG) discussed a tentative but thoughtful plan to consolidate the three student governments across the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campuses.

Largely a draft and still subject to change, the plan offers an elegant strategy for merging the activities of the executive, legislative and judicial branches — namely, by creating federal and local levels for each branch.

The federal level would cover the whole USF system while the local level would have leadership at each individual campus.

At the federal level, all three campuses would vote to elect a system-wide student body president. Each campus would be apportioned a minimum of five SG senators, with the rest being determined by population. The Supreme Court would have five justices from Tampa, two justices from St. Pete and two justices from Sarasota-Manatee. This framework gives each campus ample voice in system-wide decisions.

At the local level, meanwhile, each campus would have a governor, a campus council, and a circuit court, filling local roles similar to the student body president, Senate and Supreme Court, respectively.

The draft plan provides a broad framework that balances representation across each campus. The specific division of labor between the federal and state student governments, however, is still to be decided.

Communicating and coordinating with hundreds of organization leaders in Tampa is already a heavy lift, let alone across campuses. The Senate will have to establish a process for training and communicating with student organizations in St. Pete and Sarasota-Manatee.

Another key question involves agencies and services funded by the Activity and Service (A&S) fee. Under the draft plan, the Tampa governor would be responsible for the SAFE Team, Bulls Radio and SG computer services. Less clear is the position of agencies like the Office of Multicultural Affairs or the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, which could play system-wide roles but are currently only housed in Tampa.

Nevertheless, the draft framework offers a flexible structure to experiment with local versus system-wide control. With careful planning and room for adjustments, the federal SG will be able to focus on providing quality services to all USF students without getting bogged down by campus-specific details. Just the same, local SGs can maintain a direct line with students and focus solely on the needs of their campus.

While the finer details have yet to be revealed, the framework presented Friday is promising. In what has been an often-controversial consolidation process, SG leaders are starting on the right foot.

Nathaniel Sweet is a junior majoring in political science.