Gaetz’ bill to make student BOG member appointed by governor moves ahead

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The bill that would make the student member of the Florida Board of Governors a position appointed by the governor moved ahead in the House education committee Tuesday, despite fervent testimony on students from both sides, reports Kim Wilmath.

As the state constitution now spells it out, that member is the chair of the Florida Student Association, an organization made up of student body presidents from the state universities. The problem, says bill sponsor Rep. Matt Gaetz, is that the FSA charges dues. He sees the set-up as “pay-to-play.”  Only one university is not an FSA member — Gaetz’s alma mater, Florida State University.

But the current FSA chairman and BOG student member, Michael Long, says the current arrangement works. FSA recently amended its bylaws so that membership is not contingent on dues. If FSU’s student body president wanted to join the group, even as a voting member, the school wouldn’t need to pay a dime. Plus, another change to the bylaws says that a unanimous vote among all members is required to implement dues. So if FSU wants to do away with all dues for everybody, they could be that lone dissenting vote.

Not good enough, said Asimina Boutzoukas, a senior at FSU who is paid to direct students’ governmental affairs. FSA shouldn’t be singled out in the state constitution at all. There’s nothing keeping future members of that organization from changing those bylaws back and requiring dues.

“I challenge you to understand, this is a fundamental problem within our constitution,” Boutzoukas told the committee.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.