The material on the budget is pretty standard. SG, Reitz Union, Rec Sports, ACCENT, SLS, etc. 3% increase. The administration has followed a pretty solid template and the budget has had no quirks. It is nice that the Budget Committee gave the Grad Student Council the $15,000 extra for travel grants from the budget, since the Senate has already approved two requests ($20,000 and $27,000) for additional travel grants in the previous two FY's respectively.
I don't know if the Budget Committee even discussed the possibility of needing to amend the budget in the eventuality of a federally mandated minimum wage increase, so I thought that was a bit irresponsible following the Democratic takeover of Congress. Given that the Democrats are willing to tack on the m.w.i. to any conference bill (like the Iraq Conference report), Budget should start having m.w.i. hearings soon, since these amendments may be tacked on to any of the 'must pass' bills that the Congress would consider soon, or to the future Iraq bill.
Special Note: Seeing how I am one of the younger ones here I think my perspective may be more in line with the general student body or, at least, the regularly informed voter since I haven’t had as much exposure to Student Government. While I believe I am more in tune with current happenings than the average voter I hope this will provide more of a picture of the opinions of those that actually care.
The Budget: B- (since we have this new grading system)
I have come to the conclusion that the average voter (and definitely the average student) doesn’t really know how Student Government spends our A&S fees. Looking at The Reitz and RecSports I believe most students would give these services an A grade. RTS on campus would likely receive a B grade because of overcrowding; on the campaign trail I also heard many complain about Frat Row having so many buses that are clearly underutilized. When it comes to club funding, however I think SG has to get a C grade, especially when it comes down to smaller clubs simply because they do not put on much outside programming. Students in these clubs will here their officers complain about the huge budgets BSU, JSU, and the Christian religious groups have while they are struggling to get by. Members of Falling Gators actually told me that their officers told them to think twice about pulling the secondary/emergency shoot if needed because it simply wasn’t in the budget!
Exec./Legislative Relations: B-/C+
Most students really don’t observe communication happening in my opinion. At the top of both branches communication seems fluid and information is being passed along but when it comes to Cabinet and Agencies I think that is a different story. While I can certainly understand it is very hard to know EVERYONE in SG, I remember this one Senate meeting in the fall semester where Mr. Lutin was handing out voter registration forms and from the way we interacted I was under the impression that he believed I was a senator. I am truly under the impression that members of Cabinet do not know what is happening in the Senate and visa-versa.
I don't know, I don't participate in Senate leadership (Senate Exec) that much, or in SG Executive committee, but I feel that these two entitities within SG are invisible to the Senate and to the student body. Senate Exec and SG Exec meetings either happened unannounced or I didn't get the memo or I chose to not attend, but I didn't think they were that often. But Exec talks a lot at Senate and since Senate is mainly a set of one-way soliloquies aimed at senators with short attention spans (myself included) we feel that we need to talk, and hence we debate the placement of the commas on the fallen Gators or the definition of "God vs. Nature" for hours.
I think it has been great that the constituency requirements for off-campus have been approved and that now the lobby coordinator won't be the sole liaison between SG and City of Gainesville/Alachua County. Like Gavin said I thought Lutin sometimes was on his own, and received perhaps undeserved criticism, which he deflected by vigorously retelling the Senate his hours at his office. He has done a great job, given the constraints and the hugeness of his position. Now with district senators attending city commission and other meetings, perhaps they can work together to get some stuff done more effectively, and help out the future lobby coordinators.
The trips our SG execs get paid to go on to DC are good for them, and for us, since they use some of their time there to talk about our issues, which is good. Of course, the top leadership receiving all these travel perks always receives the usual populist criticism. But if you want to obtain these trips for yourself, run for these high offices where you can give yourselves those treats.
Of course travel to some trips like AIPAC etc should not be paid with A&S funds, and maybe the 800 codes should be amended to that respect.
Lobbying Administration: C+
If you would have asked me a month ago this grade would have been much higher but as I gotten to know more people they have told me UF simply isn’t that strong at lobbying; I think I have to agree to some extent. Don’t get me wrong, from what I have seen and heard I believe Mr. Lutin is likely the hardest working guy in SG and has been given a great amount of support by the UF Administration and Mr. Boyles but I simply don’t believe the momentum (and luck) has been there for him. This Lobbying Administration hasn’t been too proactive when it comes to getting students informed and involved either (I believe they have a good reason for avoiding these points however when you don’t have the staff under you).
On Grad Issues
Again the travel grants have been increased at the A&S fee budget level, which is good. The Senate should probably ratify the Graduate Student Bill of Rights after the Graduate Student Council ratifies it too.
The Senate is too time-consuming an institution for busy graduate students on PhD-level work or professional students with steady rounds of exams, so its structure needs to be revamped so that professional and graduate students can have more leverage without having to sit through many sometimes pointless hours of Senate meetings.
I think that SG does a good job at encouraging and permitting cultural associations. The best government is one that governs the least, so I am glad that SG delegates such activities to the most appropriate organizations with the better jurisdiction, like HSA, AASU, etc. I think SG/Accent should work more with faculty inside the university to bring them as speakers in regular multicultural panels, and help coordinate such events across different organizations and faculty members who may be experts on several of these issues.
La Casita / Asian Am. etc
Like Sandy Chiu said, the APA center is a political magnet for AA students and SG has no jurisdiction over it, except maybe to redirect CITF funds to the construction of such a site when they get released every x number of years. I like Moseley's idea of soliciting private donations for these institutes, I think many celebrities of diverse origins that may not know what to do with their money would love to donate.
Multicultural Affairs (IBC/LC Upgrades/Asian Am. Center): N/A
I really don’t believe we should be applauding SG for any current and future upgrades such as computers and carpeting simply because those should be expected. It is my belief that other than budgeting SG doesn’t have much affect on multicultural affairs. I believe it is the student leaders of these organizations that have the greatest affect (whether they are affected by SG is another subject). As an example: at a Senate meeting there was a high ranking senator who was rather well-know in multicultural groups who asked for help with the Senate President’s name…I think that gives an accurate picture of the affect the average student involved in multicultural groups feels from SG. Mr. Moseley and Co. will get an A++ if they are able to get the Asian American Center on UF’s agenda this year.
Positive Gov't Image/Press
Positive Gov't Image/Press: D+
This is a hard one simply because the positive image surrounding the top executives versus the image surrounding SG is like night and day. The top executives, especially Mr. Boyles, have done a great job of keeping their personal images very strong through their attendance at various UF events. SG, on the other hand, as simply had a rough year concerning press coverage. Going on what has been covered in the various press outlets: the lobbying season was mediocre at best, the Judicial Branch gave the rest of SG a black eye, Chomp the Vote failed, ACCENT lost two big speakers (cannot blame the agency), ACCENT’s Moe Rocca show had to turn away thousands, and promotion for most Cabinet and Agency events has been lackluster if existent.
Well, the Swamp party did a good enough job to get the Alligator endorsement for Gator Party, and it was well deserved since Ryan has been doing a solid job. John is always super informed of a million things. Also, Swamp managed to fold the cultural big groups inside of its umbrella, robbing the independents of the ability to convince them. But like someone said, the independent community squandered its advantage for the past two years due to the ego trips of Progress vs. Impact and all of its ramifications. Had there been one GDI party perhaps that candidate would have been president in May 2005 and history would be different today.
Many of the students outside of SG are blissfully unaware of SG so this question is positively moot for them, and is only important for SG insiders, junkies and the Alligator.
Overall Grade: C
I am really more borderline C+ with this one but from all of what I have observed and heard over the past year and from what I was told by students on the campaign trail this administration will go down as nothing spectacular for those that even bother to form an opinion. While those involved seem like very good people their efforts simply haven’t registered with the average voter and definitely not with the average student. Mr. Boyles will be remembered as a great guy with the VP that had to step down shortly after elections because of grades.
Regardless of who's who in SG, I had to go to class, get my reading/homework done, fail miserably at attempting to go to the gym, etc. Life moves along in the campus regardless of the third floor; unlike the eye of Sauron, which caused great unrest in the lands of Middle-Earth. I've met pretty inspiring people, and some pretty plain ones, but it's been a fun year.
Well dear friends, here on the shores of this sea comes to an end our fellowship in Middle-earth. But I will not say do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.
A Note From Duque
I'm glad Frank did the grades, let me just state that for the record. With Pedro you have to read more into it, but either way, both of these guys did an awesome job. I'm hoping that at some point we'll hear from the mastermind of the Moseley campaign (as he did sort of commit) and from Amanda Kane and others.
I tend not to comment-directly very much on these sorts of entries, mainly because I didn't live under these regimes (lol) as a student. Nonetheless, I wouldn't say Boyles' administration was terribly good or bad. I want to be fair. I also want to be honest. Joe Goldberg irritated me often (politically), but he did a great deal of good for the University, the same I could say about Kyle Jones and...yes... even Jamal Sowell, but with Boyles it's different. From the dozens of emails I have on the matter from inside sources, it seems John did whatever FBK instructed him. I personally think he erred in hiring Armand over Nina and I think his lighting-fast support of the administration (seemingly over the students in many cases) was disturbing.
I have plenty to say on the matter, but will hold my tongue. I'd like to hear from more students. So please get in touch.