UF students without voice on new board
Published: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 7, 2003 at 12:06 a.m.
When the state Board of Governors meets for the first time today, University of Florida faculty will have a seat at the table in board member and UF radiology professor Richard Briggs.
But it could be some time before a UF student gets a turn as the student representative to the new oversight board for the state's universities.
That's because UF's student government pulled out of the Florida Student Association in July, electing instead to use its $26,000 in annual dues to help hire a lobbyist to represent UF students.
After the Board of Regents was abolished it seemed less important to be a part of a state organization than to make sure UF students were represented in the Legislature, student leaders said at the time.
But a statewide system is back because of Amendment 11, which created the 17-member Board of Governors to oversee the 11 universities and specifies that the student president of the Florida Student Association will serve on the board.
Pablo Paez, student body president of Florida Atlantic University and Florida Student Association president, will be the first student on the Board of Governors.
But UF students can not be in line for the job since UF student government doesn't belong to the Florida Student Association.
Asked Monday whether UF will reconsider its decision to pull out, Student Body President Nikki Fried said "not in my administration."
"That is definitely not an option," said Fried, who pushed for pulling out of the group because she found it ineffective in protecting students from tuition increases, among other things.
Fried said she doesn't think it's fair that student governments have to join the Florida Student Association and pay dues in order to be represented by the Board of Governors.
She also said that to ask one student, typically in his or her senior year, to be a student body president, a member of the local board of trustees, chair of the Florida Student Association and a member of the Board of Governors at the same time "is asking that individual to play God."
"That person is not going to sleep if he's doing any of his jobs right," Fried said. "There's no way an individual can do all four jobs plus be a student if they anticipate surviving the year."
But Paez, a senior in finance at FAU, said he plans to do it all and do it well.
"That's a lot of responsibility but I think we all take that responsibility because we care about the welfare of our fellow students," he said.
Paez questioned the wisdom of UF's decision to pull out of the Florida Student Association, which he said represents the common interests of all the state's students. Among the things the organization will lobby for this year are holding the line on tuition increases and keeping the popular Bright Futures scholarship viable, he said.
"I think for the student body of UF, their decision provides for a lack of representation on the board because their president is not eligible to be a president of FSA," he said.
"You can hire as many lobbyists as you want," Paez said, "but I think you can be more effective by having a united voice."
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