Recent uncertainty concerning the power and role of UCF’s Student Government Association was quashed at the UCF Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.
The BOT's Educational Programs Committee convened at the Live Oak Center to discuss long-standing regulation 5.0021, which outlines the privileges and responsibilities given to SGA and Registered Student Organizations.
“We articulated some of the language to match the authorizing statute for Student Government … This isn’t a change in the relationship [between SGA and the administration],” said Deputy General Counsel Youndy C. Cook.
University Trustees proposed a revision to the regulation addressing SGA and RSOs: “Through its own constitutional procedures and in accordance with Section 1009.24(10)(b), Florida Statutes, Student Government may propose how that portion of University fees fixed by law and designated as Activity and Service Fees will be spent at the University. The University must give approval to the proposed allocation and use of Activity and Service Fees, and the President may veto any particular line item in the Activity and Service Fee Budget proposal.”
SGA President Christopher Clemente presented board members with a written modification of their revision: “Through its own constitutional procedures and in accordance with Section 1009.24(10)(b), Florida Statutes, Student Government may determine the allocation and expenditure of that portion of University fees fixed by law and designated as Activity and Service Fees. The University must review the Activity and Service Fee budget, and the President may veto any particular line item in budget.”
Clemente motioned to replace the word “propose” with “determine,” which is used in the original wording of the regulation, to ensure that SGA retains power to allocate funds from its $18.6 million budget to RSOs and more. He said it was imperative for him to suggest a change in the verbiage after listening to the concerns of UCF students and SGA officials.
Clemente’s amendment was unanimously approved by the committee that morning.
SGA officials and members of the public attended the meeting to urge President John C. Hitt and other Trustees to consider the ramifications of their actions.
Central Florida resident Jeffrey Koeppel said he submitted an open records request to “locate a rationale” for approving the regulation.
“I also found an email from Kerry Welch, associate vice president of student development, to Youndy Cook stating, ‘Youndy, I met with Shane and went over the regulation. It looks good, my only concern is being sure that Chris is on board prior to the vote. We will work on that?’” Koeppel said.
After hearing from five members of the UCF and Orlando communities, the Board of Trustees voted. Clemente’s amendment was unanimously approved by the members that afternoon.
“The only effect is that it clarifies and codifies the practices that we’ve been doing for years,” Clemente said. “It’s as simple as that. We’ve been following these procedures and these rules for as long as I can remember. Today, we simply just called the kettle black — finally. And we ensured that the language we look to on a day to day basis to dictate our actions was also in direct accordance with state statutes, which ultimately dictates it.”
Senior Nicklas Bajema, the former supervisor of SGA elections, said that since UCF stands for opportunity, student interest should remain at the forefront of every decision made by the administration.
“If people don’t come out and speak out and let their will be known, then how can those who represent them know what they want?” Bajema said. “It was a very pivotal moment for UCF in and of itself. I think today the Board of Trustees is realizing that the best tasting medicine is our own."
The Board of Trustees also approved a new degree program in which Knights can obtain a master’s of science in genetic counseling. However, members were unclear as to whether or not the program needed further approval from the Florida Board of Governors.
In addition, they approved a $38 million project to construct Trevor Colbourn Hall in place of Colbourn Hall, discussed initiatives to increase donations from UCF alumni and spoke about the IGNITE Campaign. UCF administration said it is hopeful that the campaign will be the “fuel that takes UCF to new heights” with its focus on student success, academic excellence and growth. The university aims to raise $500 million for the campaign by 2019.
Shana Medel is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.