UCF Pride Coalition’s fate may be decided Feb. 27

By : David Thomas Moran
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Orlando- The UCF Student Body Senate plans to decide the fate of Pride Coalition at its Feb. 27 meeting. Depending on the outcome of the Senate’s vote, the LGBT programming arm of UCF’s Student Government Association (SGA) may no longer exist come July.

SGA’s Agency and Department Strategic Planning Board (ADSPB) passed an 8-1-0 motion on Feb. 13 that allows a grievance to terminate Pride Coalition to move forward to the Senate floor for a vote.

ADSPB oversees the policies and procedures that govern SGA-affiliated agencies and departments as well as the process for creating or terminating an agency. A proposal to terminate an agency will not make it to the Senate floor unless ADSPB, which is comprised of both students and university staff members, gives it the green light.

The grievance to terminate Pride Coalition was originally filed on Jan. 6 by student body president Melissa Westbrook, VP and ADSPB chair Jacob Kahn, comptroller and activity & service fee (A&SF) Budget Committee Chair Jason Wojkiewicz and speaker of the senate Jaclyn Graham. They cited Pride Coalition’s defunding as the primary reason for seeking termination.

Pride Coalition’s future has been somewhat up in the air since December, when SGA’s A&SF Budget Committee approved a recommendation to cut all of the agency’s funding for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Nicholas Simons, Pride Coalition’s student director, said that ADSPB’s decision to put the question of termination before a Senate vote is not a guaranteed death sentence for Pride Coalition.

“Pride Coalition and SGA leaders will present two options to the Student Body Senate [at the Feb. 27 Senate meeting]. The first option retains Pride Coalition as a separate agency in its current structure. The second option is to terminate Pride Coalition and create a committee to house Pride Coalition under the Multicultural Student Center (MSC),” said Simons in an email to Watermark.

Regarding the second option, Simons said SGA is considering creating a new department that houses the Multicultural Student Center and Pride Coalition as well as LGBTQ Services. There is also a proposal to create a director-level, Social Justice and Advocacy position that would oversee the whole area.

That means even if Pride Coalition’s agency status is terminated, it still may exist but in a different form.

Student Body Vice-President and ADSPB chair Jacob Kahn said via email that SGA leadership, Pride Coalition leadership, and various members of the UCF administration are currently engaged in talks about the future of Pride Coalition.

“Nothing is 100% concrete yet, so I don’t have anything solid to comment on concerning moving forward with Pride Coalition at this time,” said Kahn.

According to the Feb. 14 meeting minutes, ADSPB unanimously agreed to draft a memorandum of intent regarding establishing a safety net for Pride Coalition depending on the outcome of the Senate vote.

If Pride Coalition does retain its SGA-affiliated agency status, it will still need A&SF funds in order to operate. If it becomes a part of MSC, adequate funding and staffing will also be an issue.

The zero-funding of Pride Coalition is not the first funding obstacle the agency has faced in its inaugural year. Westbrook temporarily suspended Pride Coalition in November over an allegation of a misuse of funds. The suspension was lifted after representatives from both SGA leadership and Pride Coalition leadership met to discuss the matter.

The dispute was regarding $71.82 that Pride Coalition spent on meals for LGBTQ+ Services coordinator interviews—a new full-time staff position that also serves as the advisor for Pride Coalition. Westbrook claimed the expense violated SGA statutes requiring that Pride Coalition not transfer any of its funds to LGBTQ+ Services while Pride Coalition claimed the expense was relevant because it funded a lunch meet-and-greet for students to get to know candidates who could potentially be their advisor.

 

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