Student senate proposes new bill


Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

The University of Florida Student Senate kicked off the Spring semester this week by passing a bill that would amend the student body statutes that define the composition of the Student Senate itself.

The bill, which was authored and presented by the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggests limiting the maximum size of the senate from 120 members to 100 members to reflect the slowing growth of the university.

The passing of the bill Tuesday, however, does not immediately amend the constitution but simply allows the student body to vote on the issue in the upcoming general election. Students will have the ultimate say on whether the constitution is amended or not.

There are currently 94 senators in office, a number that Senate President Kevin Reilly says has been constant for the past year and a half.

"There are more than enough senators now to get done what needs to be done," said Sen. Mary-Grace Bell, a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Judiciary Chair Sen. Ryland Rogers pointed out that the amendment would not be downsizing the current size of the senate but would effectively put a cap on the its growth and prevent any inflation of the senate.

If passed by the student body, the measure also would place the addition or subtraction of senate seats at the direct discretion of the Student Senate itself rather than the faculty senate with the logic being that student senators are more sensitive to and aware of students' needs than faculty members.

Despite its passing, several senators questioned the necessity of the bill.

Sen. Courtney Stephenson presented a formal amendment to the bill proposing to leave the maximum number of members at 120 to allow room for future senate growth should the university continue to grow.

A primary argument against his amendment was whether or not a senate larger than 100 members would actually be more effective in representing the student body regardless of continued growth.

Just as the U.S. Senate remains at a constant size despite a growing population, the Student Senate will theoretically remain about the same size even if the university should continue to grow, Sen. Bell said.

The Student Senate is based on the representation of the various colleges and independent schools within UF in much the same way that the U.S. Senate is based on representation from the 50 states.

The bill ultimately passed without amendment and will appear on this semester's election ballots.

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