Legislative Report: November 22, 2013

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2013 by cmwriter777

Here’s a report of the Nov. 22, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This update is brought to you by UP reporters Kathryn Wohlpart and Christopher Jorge Massana.

There was no lack of drama at the Nov. 22 Boca House of Representatives meeting when Campus Gov. Charles Berichi tried to have someone removed from their position at a meeting intended to fill more positions.

The Boca House held in-house elections to fill ten open seats — electing four out of the five applicants who attended. The house welcomed Andrew Kanersky, Michael Cairo, Ashley Hernandez and Alexander Bruno. The fifth applicant in attendance, Jorge Garcia, was not elected due to some House members disliking his proclamation that he wanted to “be a boss” on his application.

During the Open Forum portion of the meeting, packets were handed out with emails and tweets alleging Program Board Director Lindsey Rinner’s unprofessionalism and disregard for regulations. The packets were put together by Berichi, with the goal of removing Rinner from office.

Former Boca Campus Gov. Ella Tepper spoke against the “one sided argument” presented in Berichi’s packet. “I feel that there is a big difference in being constructive and being destructive. I feel that the tone that this packet conveys is very on the destructive side.”

In contrast to Tepper, Multicultural Programing Director Logan Israel supported Berichi’s attempt to remove Rinner. Israel claimed that Rinner wrote “gay shirts” on a box of LGBTQ shirts.  In addition, Israel claimed that Rinner had bad mouthed her and “shushed” her as well as other staff.

Traditions Chair of the Programming Board Trevor Lewis defended Rinner by objecting to Israel’s statements regarding a box of LGBTQ shirts and clarifying her allegations.

“Something else I wanted to address was the whole gay shirts incident. Lindsey had zero participation at all in that. That was actually something that I did…and I’m sorry for that,” Lewis said.

During his Governor’s Report, Berichi made comments regarding Rinner before asking for a motion to remove Rinner from her position.

“I saw Lindsey parade her pals up here…no one is saying she’s a bad human being…when it comes to being director of the Program Board it stops right there…she feels untouchable,” said Berichi.

Adamant about the removal of Rinner, Berichi said “I will do this every week until May, until I graduate.”

Rinner also gave her side during her report time. Rinner presented a handout in response to Berichi’s.

Rinner stated that programs she put on during her time as director were successful with high attendance rates. She also discussed all of the complaints that were brought up against her during the open forum and stated that she was shocked that this issue was up for discussion.

“I had mediation with Charlie on Thursday and I left the mediation thinking that it went really well,” Rinner said. “During our mediation all of our problems were discussed.”

After over three hours of discussion, the House unanimously voted to keep Rinner as Program Director.

Berichi left all eyes on Rinner, but Rep. Ian Dunne moved for a vote of no-confidence against Berichi — twice in one night. Dunne’s first motion early in the meeting was not seconded and did not go to a vote. Dunne’s second motion — made later in the meeting — failed in a roll call vote — 14 to 11.

Friday was not the only time that the House held a vote of no confidence against Berichi this year.  During the summer legislative session on July 19th, Rep. Rebecca Sosa motioned for a vote that failed by a margin of seven to six.

In addition to Rinner’s attempted removal, and the failed vote of no-confidence, the House also discussed three pieces of legislation:

BRHB-13-21: The “700 Statute Revisions” proposed changes to the Student Government constitution that were brought forth in the summer. The House was urged by both Council of Students Organization (COSO) Director Aneal Ramkissoon and Student Government Advisor Ryan Frierson to pass at least a portion of the proposed changes, namely, those that affect COSO’s ability to allocate funds to student organizations before the Fall legislative session came to a close.

“I’m really disappointed that the 700 statutes haven’t been passed. It has been on the floor of the House since June and it has been five months now…we’re extremely frustrated.”said Director Ramkissoon, “…This tit-for-tat back-and-forth, this is not productive. Five months to pass statutes? That’s kind of ridiculous, in my opinion.”

After deliberation, the House decided to unanimously pass part of the revisions affecting programming, which now allows COSO to more effectively allocate funds to student organizations. The remaining revisions were tabled until the spring.

BRHB-13-23: “Focus Group — Owl Wait — Up All Night Event” is a proposal to change a planned SG-sponsored focus group event. The proposal takes into account the unavailability of Traditions Plaza, the original location of the event, and instead proposes to combine the focus group event with Up All Night. The bill cements an agreement between SG and the coordinator of the Up All Night event, which combines the two into a single event with and has allocates $1250 for contest prizes. The measure was passed by unanimous consent of the House.

BRHB-13-24: “Student Government’s Commitment to Safety – Pepper Spray Distribution” is a bill authored by Campus Governor Berichi, written in response to the string of armed robberies on Boca Campus. The bill would authorize the purchase of 1000 keychain pepper spray units to be distributed amongst the student body, with students being required to sign a liability waiver if they request one. The keychain pepper spray units were to be distributed alongside a copy of Florida Statute 776.012 — which defines lawful self-defense — and painted with the SG logo. One representative referred to the pepper sprays as “weapons.”

“We had problems with GEO Group putting their name on a stadium, and they run prisons. Now we’re distributing pepper spray to our student body population?” Rep. Elana Kashti said. “God forbid somebody misuses that and it get on the news with our logo.” said Kashti, “How is that going to look?”

After deliberation, the Boca House moved to table the bill indefinitely, the motion was approved, thus killing the bill.

Legislative Report: September 13, 2013

Posted in Uncategorized on September 14, 2013 by dylanjbouscher

Here’s a report of the Sept. 13, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This update is brought to you by UP reporter Christopher Jorge Massana.

The drive-thru-paced Sept. 13 meeting of the Boca House of Representatives was the second-to-last meeting for the current crop of Representatives before the Student Government Legislative Elections on Sept. 24 and 25.

The one piece of legislation discussed at the meeting was BRHB-13-12: “700 Statute Revisions”. This bill, which deals with revisions to the 700 section of the student statutes, was tabled last week. Speaker of the House Jaclyn Broudy discussed the bill during House Forum, stating her opinion on allowing the bill to proceed into the next legislative session after the elections on Sept. 24.

“Since we couldn’t come to a consensus…we can’t have any legislation go into the next session, we don’t want that to happen,” Broudy said. “If we’d gone ahead and passed it, then overridden the governor’s veto, the President would have vetoed it anyways, and then we would be back here and it would have gone to the next session.”

Broudy eventually recommended that the bill be tabled indefinitely.

“My recommendation for you guys [the Boca House] is to table it indefinitely, we’ll bring up the 700 statute revisions at the first meeting of the fall semester,” Broudy said. “…if we all believe that the two semester requirement for each of the program directors is what we want, we can have [the Campus Gov.] veto it and override his veto, and then the President can veto it and we can override his veto too. So basically, it’s your call.”

BRHB-13-12 was tabled indefinitely by the House. Aside from BRHB-13-12, no other legislation was discussed or introduced at the meeting.

Student Government Legislative Elections are open Sept. 24 and 25. Students can use their myFAU account to vote.

Legislative Report: September 6th, 2013

Posted in Boca House Meetings on September 9, 2013 by cmwriter777

Here’s a report of the Sept. 6, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This update is brought to you by UP reporter Christopher Jorge Massana.

The September 6th meeting of the Boca House of representatives marks the beginning of the fall legislative session for Student Government, after a month’s recess from the Aug. 2 meeting. Two pieces of legislation were considered by the House during the meeting.

Introduced in this meeting, House bill (BRHB-13-12) concerned revisions to the Student Statutes, which had earlier been vetoed by Boca Campus Gov. Charles Berichi. The veto came from the language used in the revised statutes, which required the directors of some SG programs such as Program Board and the Peer Education Team to have spent two semesters in the program before assuming the role of director, but not others.

“He vetoed it based on the fact that it says that it says there’s a two-semester requirement, for both PET and Program Board…what we changed during the revision committee was to include that for every program…” said House Speaker Jaclyn Broudy, who advised that the bill be tabled until the Sept. 13 meeting, “his recommendation is to change that or try and decide if there’s another course of action we can take.”

The other piece of legislation discussed at the meeting was a tabled resolution from the Aug. 2 meeting of the Boca House; BRHR-13-10, “Support for Dialogue and Understanding” a bill that had been introduced by Rep. Didier Ortiz at the previous meeting. After speeches by Ortiz and Rep. Jihad Sheikha, the resolution was put up to vote, in which it passed unanimously, in stark contrast to the opposition that it faced in the last meeting of the summer session.

“I thought we were going to watch some Ancient Roman-type of situation, you know, get stabbed on the steps of the House.”” said Ortiz, after the meeting “…I loved it [the bill getting passed], I wrote it with the intent of having unanimous support.”

“We were expecting the worst” said Sheikha, “especially since the first time we proposed it, it was not in the best environment…but I’m ecstatic, it was unanimous, it’s awesome.”

The leader of the F-Word (the feminist organization at FAU), Junior theater major Samantha Novaton, who had spoken in support of the resolution earlier during the meeting, was also pleased with the outcome of the vote. “I’m very excited it was passed, I heard about the troubles they had at the last meeting, so I’m very satisfied that it was passed and that everyone agreed on it.” said Novaton.

The resolution even garnered support from previous critics of it, like House Parliamentarian Ian Dunne, who said that “at the end of the day you’ve got to set your personal feelings aside and choose what is best for not only the group that is around you, but for the people you’re about to impact.”

Aside from the legislation, Speaker Broudy also referenced the latest issue of the University Press, namely, the cover story concerning the implementation of a mandatory leadership class for paid student leadership positions.

“If you guys had a chance to review the UP, the latest edition, there was an article about the LDR [2010] course. Myself, as well as the governor, the Student Body President and Vice President are all adamantly opposed to the course, this house is as well…” said Broudy, “If you had a chance to look at that article or have not had a chance, I would encourage you to do so.”

As Broudy said, the Boca House is strongly opposed to the mandatory leadership course, LDR 2010, going so far to pass a resolution in opposition to it. Many representatives, such as Didier Ortiz, have expressed personal disapproval of the requirement.

“If there’s anyone that needs to take a leadership course” said Rep. Ortiz, “it’s those people sitting in the Administration offices.”

BRHR-13-10 Page 1

BRHR-13-10 Page 2

Legislative Update: August 2nd, 2013

Posted in Boca House Meetings on August 2, 2013 by cmwriter777

Here’s a report of the Aug. 2, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This update is brought to you by UP reporter Christopher Jorge Massana.

Today marks the last time the Boca House will convene this summer. The house will reconvene in fall, on Sept. 6.

But at the very end of the Boca House’s summer session, with 16 members present, the Boca House discussed two new bills. The second bill on the agenda, BRHB-13-13: “Tent for the Get Wow’d Event” – a bill that would move $2,500 from the House’s budget to the COSO, or the Council of Student Organizations, which funds clubs that are too small to be funded by the University Budget and Appropriations Committee, for the purpose of renting a tent for a freshman introductory event – moved through the house with little trouble; the bill was passed unanimously.

The first bill on the agenda, BRHR-13-10: “Support for Dialogue and Understanding”, however, proved more contentious. The “Support for Dialogue and Understanding” Resolution was authored and sponsored by Representative Didier Ortiz, who introduced the bill.

“The resolution supports the group called the Dream Defenders..I had asked them to come and speak to you about this resolution” Rep. Ortiz said, “…unfortunately, today they leave back to Tallahassee…back up to protest, back up to advocate for dialogue.”

The FAU Dream Defenders, a group formerly known as the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition –– famous for opposing the sale of FAU Stadium’s naming rights to a private prison corporation –– is at the state capitol protesting the “Stand Your Ground” law, the protests brought on by the verdict in the recent Trayvon Martin court case (for clarification, Dream Defenders itself is a national organization, the FAU chapter is the group descended from the Stop Owlcatraz Coalition). Ortiz’ support of the group through the resolution was challenged vocally by Rep. Elana Kashti and Parliamentarian Ian Dunne.

“Are you aware of the events that occurred in D.C. and Oakland, CA?” Dunne said. “Are you aware that in D.C. there was a robbery, and they said ‘this is for Trayvon Martin,’ and that in Oakland, they vandalized a Men’s Warehouse store?”

The “they” that Dunne refers to is not the Dream Defenders group. “First, we have to define who is “they”, and after we define who is “they”, do they have the right to speak for the rest of the country?” Ortiz said, in response to Dunne.

“Are you aware that this House already passed a resolution in regards to this issue?” Kashti said. She repeated the question three times before Ortiz acknowledged that he was aware, but made the point of differentiating his resolution from the previous one.

“This resolution is not about Stand Your Ground, it’s about dialogue.” Ortiz said.

Before the time to vote on BRHR-13-10 came, House Speaker Jaclyn Broudy urged caution. “There seems to be a lot of discussion on this, my recommendation would be to table it, so that all of you can have a further look into it,” Broudy said.

House Resolution BRHB-13-10 did not proceed to vote at the Aug. 2 meeting, and was instead tabled until the Boca House reconvenes in the fall, on Sept. 6.

Legislative Update: July 26th, 2013

Posted in Boca House Meetings, Uncategorized on July 29, 2013 by cmwriter777

 Here’s a report of the July 26, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This report is brought to you by UP reporters Ella Levinger and Stacey Pasternak.

The second to last session on July 26, 2013–beginning one minute after scheduled time–for the Boca House of Representatives summer term, was missing five delegates, as well as the President, Vice President, and Governor.

Roughly 3 minutes into the session during open forum, Representative Didier Ortiz recalled his meeting in Tallahassee to support Dream Defenders and their “stand your ground” special session of legislature. Dream Defenders is an organization heading up protests in relation to George Zimmerman’s verdict in killing Trayvon Martin.

“We should have dialogue about what happens about the laws, regardless of whether you agree with the verdict or not,” Ortiz said.

Amanda Schumacher filled in for President Peter Amirato, discussing the Florida Student Association conference held in Jacksonville,  an organization bent on improving all the universities in Florida and how they function. Student Body President Peter Amirato, Vice President Patrick Callahan, and Boca Campus Gov. Charles Berichi were all attending. The conference focused on broken vending machines in the Breezeway and other things regarding the FSA.

The program reports began with marketing director Danielle Klaristenfeld, pushing the advertisement of FAU’s new Student Government facebook page, hoping to get 500 likes by friday August 2, 2013.

Aneal Ramkissoon began his first week as COSO director and discussed the preparation of “Get Loud” for August 25, 2013 on the housing lawn. Ramkissoon also mentioned “Club Fest” at campus recreations from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the rec-room on September 11, 2013, and the possibility of an open house on September 5, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.  “so the students could know about the resources and facilities on the second floor of the student union”.

The Committee on Committees Chair report, given by Michael Cepeda, discussed Owl Fowl, where students wear shirts from different schools in exchange for a new FAU shirt.

During the campus Action Chair report, Christopher Ferreira teamed with the marketing director on making pamphlets for the Student Government Starter Kits.

Tabled business, (BRHB-13-12, or “Duties and Powers of the Student Body President”)  “700 statute revisions” was approved by the house unanimously after a friendly amendment from Shireen Rosier for clarification about the bill and what it promises on paper. The “700 statute revisions” updated the rules of the House of Representatives.

During the special order speeches, Parliamentarian Ian Dunne apologized for his behavior at meetings throughout the summer, which he thought could’ve been offensive to the rest of his colleagues.

“I apologize for my behaviors and actions throughout the summer; I’m one of those old school representatives, I have a different mindset than everybody else,” Dunne said.

When asked about his reasoning for apologizing,  Parliamentarian Dunne said,

“My reputation is on the line. If i didn’t do this now, people are going to have less confidence in my ability to be an effective leader.”

Until August 2, stay tuned to Owl Watch.

Legislative Update: July 19th, 2013

Posted in Boca House Meetings, Uncategorized on July 26, 2013 by austenerblat

Here’s a report of the July 19, 2013 Boca House of Representatives meeting. This report is brought to you by UP reporters Ella Levinger and Stacey Pasternak.

Student Body President Peter Amirato gave his report for the following week, which included the first home game, block programming and the donation of the fountain to be in front of the student government building. However, the representatives focused primarily on meetings prior.

When the floor yielded for questions to President Amirato, Rep. Christopher Ferreira opened the floor.

“Are you aware that at the House meeting on the 5th you told us that you would not be here on the 12th,” Ferreira said, “and I asked you if you could send a designee for the House meeting on the 12th and you failed to do so?”

Dressed in a hoodie and a baseball hat, President Amirato informed Ferreira and the rest of the House representatives of the reasons why this request was not possible. The president is only required to attend meetings once a month, but he’s gone above and beyond that, so there are no laws against him missing the meeting on the 12th.

Even with the accusations, Amirato stuck to his opinions, but altogether remained neutral.

“At the end of the day, I’m the student body president of the Student Government as a whole and if anything is happening within the Student Government, it is my place to help where I see fit or to assist, to give my opinion, because I am here to lead the student government as a whole,” Amirato said.

“Granted there are duties that are separate from executive and campus base but it’s all one Student Government, one FAU and also as a Boca student. I am a Boca student and these are Boca appointments so, as a concerned Boca student, I also like to share my opinion on how things go.”

President Amirato then discussed meetings he’s had with FAU police, and allotted time for questions directed at him, but the House had none until later.

Then Boca campus Governor Charles Berichi spoke to the House about his Governor’s Administrative Cabinet appointment suggestions. The appointments were successful for new Night Owls Director Derek Smith, and new Council of Student Organizations Director Aneal Ramkisoon, both receiving a unanimous decision from the house.

But tension resurfaced between the legislative and executive branches of SG.

Erijeta Diamanti, candidate for MP director, had no prior experience with MP specifically, but did boast qualifications regarding experience in UN and fluency in four languages. Towards the end of her speech, she stated “I can’t wait to start working,” before even being approved by the House. The House responded with a unanimous no, mirroring the hiring committee, which suggests candidates for the governor to appoint. Disregarding the hiring committee’s unanimous no, Berichi decided to stand alone in his opinion on Diamanti as the ideal MP director.

Rebecca Sosa lost the election for governor to Berichi back in February. Sosa asked, “Are you aware that I know I came in second place, but compared to you, I did it with honor. I did it with dignity.”

Following on this trend, Sosa, an hour and 11 minutes into the session, called for a vote of no confidence, which states that the House representatives lack the certainty that the governor expresses best interest of the student body in his decisions. Then, following an objection by Ferreira, the vote turned into a pro-con debate, where they discussed the repercussions of the vote of no confidence, and whether or not to vote on it.

In a close 7-6 ruling, Berichi kept the House’s confidence. A vote of no confidence is usually the first step toward impeaching an executive in Student Government, such as a campus governor or student body president.

Following the ruling, tensions waned once again. After being tabled, move-in day SG starter kits, which would be administered to new students via the student government to help new students adjust this fall, (Bill BHRB-1311), was spoken about in all the committees and was approved after the price change to $2,694.88 and the 700 Statute Revisions was tabled to committees.

“I wasn’t surprised in the sense of it; seemed like it would be coming at some point,” House Speaker Jaclyn Broudy said, regarding the vote of no confidence. “I think the House is really unhappy with the governor from the way that he’s been treating the House, the way he’s been treating these situations, the appointments he’s been making. He’s going against a committee that’s here to help him.”

Boca House Parliamentarian Ian Dunne, who’s been at FAU since December 2010 and involved in SG for the past 2 ½ years, was not expecting the outcome.

“I was actually surprised, I thought we had the majority but everybody’s opinion is different so I respect the fact that everybody has their own opinion,” Dunne said. “Governor Berichi should be out of office.”

New House Rep. Matt Tuchiero, a junior history major who is also on the rules and policies committee, felt Berichi’s opponents were being too harsh.

“I honestly thought the guy was just expressing an opinion,” Tuchiero said. “What good are First Amendment rights if you’re going to vote against to shoot down everybody who expresses them? There’s a quote from Alice in Wonderland, it goes ‘if everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster.’”

[In a previous version of this story, the UP incorrectly reported the Boca campus governor almost lost his job and met with campus police. These errors have since been corrected.]

Student Senate Update: July 10th, 2013

Posted in Student Senate Meetings on July 14, 2013 by austenerblat

This Legislative report of the July 10 meeting of the FAU Student Senate is brought to you by Christopher Jorge Massana.

The FAU Student Senate met on July 10 to discuss the appointment of new elections commissioners, and hear the reports of SG elected officials. Half of the Senate’s seats were empty for this meeting, with 3 members absent and one seat vacant.

During the meeting, Student Body President Peter Amirato appointed Elections Board Chair Michael Brown to a second term in his current position. Brown, after his appointment, then presented his nominees for other Elections Board positions. Brown’s 3 commissioner nominees, Neville Forbes for Boca campus, Claudel Louis for Jupiter campus, Stevenson Pierre-Louis for Broward campus, and Brandon Brown (no relation to Elections Board Michael Brown) as elections marketing director, were all unanimously selected by the senate, by a vote of 4-0 for each nominee.

After the elections board commissioner selection, President Amirato gave his report, during which he stated his intention to create another all-night study center on campus to complement the existing Hillel Study Center. The “Cube” located in the Engineering East building, a large study area with available computers and attached study rooms, was cited as a potential location for the proposed study center.

“Right now, we’re in talks with the new engineering building to make their ‘Cube’ room not only 24 hours, but accessible to all students,” Amirato said, regarding the proposed center. “Because currently, if you’re not an engineering student, you can’t swipe into the building, and we are not okay with that, especially since state dollars go into building it… everybody should have access to study in there.”

Aside from these items, the Senate had no legislation on its agenda, and no new legislation was introduced.

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