Student Government on legislation: Quality over quantity

Alyssa Elso/Staff Writer

The Student Government Council at Modesto Maidique Campus passed a bill to support graduate students for research travel. It will amend the graduate and professional student committee’s funding policies to increase funding for domestic conference and research travel.

With the passing of the new bill on Jan. 27, graduate students can now receive up to $500 dollars towards their travel expenses.

“In a previous administration they cut their funding,” Senate Speaker Nicholas Aquart said. “Graduate students were having a lot of issues with funding so we amended that bill.”

According to Tereza Vokata, a graduate student and GPSC committee member, in years past students were getting upwards of $700 dollars to travel to conferences, however last year the amount was cut down to only $300.

“Many people still took what they could get, but many could still not afford to travel to conferences with only $300 dollars,” Vokata said.

About 30-40 graduate students came out to support the bill.

In the first senate meeting on Jan.13, the senate passed a resolution for need-based financial aid. Aquart said the executive board will present a request to government officials for more aid.

Today, about 80 percent of FIU students currently work, many of whom financially support their families.

According to Aquart, in his term as senate speaker he is looking to pass more resolutions and bills that will benefit the student body rather than pass those that are not specifically geared toward the students.

This comes after SGC-MMC President Liane Sippin said that the Senate has not lived up to her expectations in the fall.

“They were a little bit slower in trying to write resolutions and bills,” Sippin said in a previous interview with Student Media. “I don’t know if it was that they didn’t have the experience because they were brand new or what. I’ve been upset about it. They haven’t even really been participating.”

But Aquart does not want the quantity of bills and resolutions to outshine the quality, as he believes that quality should be reflected in every piece of legislation.

“Looking back at previously passed bills and resolutions, a lot of resolutions are in support of Martin Luther King Day and President Obama’s Inauguration,” Aquart said. “I think it is more important to have resolutions and bills that are in support of FIU students.”

Aside from passing bills and resolutions, this semester SGC-MMC is planning a festival in support of UniversityCity to bring FIU and the city of Sweetwater together.

“On March 8, we are going to be closing down 109 St. and we will have food trucks, a farmers market, live music and six or seven entertainers,” Aquart said.

SGA senators are also working to get more involved in executive cabinet events, after Sippin expressed her disappointment.

“After speaking with President Sippin, I believe much of her frustrations came not from a lack of senate turnout, but a lack of senate turnout at executive cabinet events such as Cram Jam,” Aquart said. “We have about 26 senators and only five or six actually came out to the event.”

According to Aquart, the expectation that Sippin had of the senate was less of the expectation not being met and more in the sense that what the senate had done was not being publicized.

In hopes to change that view, about 80 to 90 percent of senators are getting involved in the internship program with about 15 senators taking on mentees.

Many senators have also created their own events for the semester and Aquart is encouraging more senators to attend executive cabinet events.

“I think President Sippin is doing a great job and she has a lot going on this semester,” Aquart said. “We just want to show the administration, President Sippin and also the student body at large that the Senate is actually doing things to better FIU and help the student body.”

– alyssa.elso@fiusm.com

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