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.