SGA discusses Monday demonstration with Chief Santoro, takes part in “ranking exercise” for FSU renovation projects

By Branden LaCroix

Staff Writer

University Chief of Police John Santoro discussed the recent demonstration sparked by an individual who came to campus March 21 to speak in opposition of LGBTQ+ rights.

Santoro discussed the incident at an SGA meeting March 22. Dale Hamel, executive vice president, also discussed with members which renovation projects priorities for students.

President McKenzie Ward asked if there were any updates on the incident, to which Santoro said there have not been many. He explained the person is “well known around the country,” and travels to public universities to have demonstrations. 

“They’re very well educated, very well trained, very knowledgeable at what they talk about, and they have a lot of support by various law firms and groups around the country,” he added. 

Santoro said the person uploads his interactions on campuses to YouTube and said he edits the videos in a way to “make the people that are talking against him look bad and to build his cause and his support for when people donate to his cause,” adding the person’s intention is to “aggravate” and “get people worked up.” 

He said although the person left “of his own free will,” he is unsure if the event will “prompt him to come back.” 

Ward asked if there is a “limitation” on the person’s freedom of speech if what they said is considered “hate speech.” 

Santoro said inquiries into the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech should be directed toward Ann McDonald, chief of staff and general counsel. 

“That’s a higher authority of big legal decisions,” he said. “She’s an expert on that and I’ll let her speak on that instead of me.”

Santoro announced the Parking Committee will be holding an open forum on March 25 from noon to 2 p.m. in the McCarthy Center Forum. 

He said they are looking for three commuter students and three resident students to represent the student body and ask questions or make suggestions to the committee.  

Hamel presented a “ranking exercise” to SGA to set the priority of 27 potential renewal and renovation projects at the University. 

The rankings were on a scale of “1” to “27,” with “1” being the highest priority. 

“We use those scores then to essentially create a little graphic that shows how the different groups rank projects,” Hamel said. 

He added the current amount of funding for these projects is about $200,000.

Potential projects include replacing doors and floors at the Doyle Center, a “facelift” for the Alumni House, consolidating the print services at the Henry Whittemore Library, and adding automatic sinks and toilets to non-residential buildings. 

One of the larger projects listed is turning one of the restrooms in the McCarthy Center into a gender-neutral restroom. 

Hamel said the project has a high cost due to the restroom requiring a complete renovation to be compliant with building codes. “It ended up being a much bigger project than, ‘Let’s switch the sign on the door,’” he said. 

The Gaming Club and Comic Book Club’s request for funding a trip to PAX East 2022 was approved by SGA. 

Comic Book Club Vice President Jacob Sergeant said the request for $3,080 will go toward renting a bus to take students to the event in Boston and for purchasing passes to the event. 

Sergeant said for its last SGA funded trip to Rhode Island Comic Con, 35 of the 40 tickets were sold to students and he is “convinced they will sell every ticket” for this event. 

The request was approved unanimously with no abstentions. 

The trip will take place Sunday, April 24.

Yumi Park Huntington, art history professor and chair of Arts & Ideas, presented several upcoming events to SGA. 

Filmmaker Audrey Kali will be discussing her film “Farm and Red Moon,” a behind-the-scenes documentary about the farm and meat industries, along with English Professor Rachel Trousdale, who will discuss her new book “Humor, Empathy, and Community in Twentieth-Century American Poetry.” The event is March 29 at Heineman Ecumenical Center at 4:30 p.m. 

Sy Stokes, postdoctoral fellow for the National Center for Institutional Diversity at University of Michigan, will be speaking at the event, “Freedom of Speech and the Politics of Morality: Campus Racial Climate in the Modern Era,” which will be held in the McCarthy Center Forum and over Zoom March 30 at 4:30 p.m. 

Huntington also announced a banner-making discussion and workshop led by Aram Han Sifuentes on April 5 at 4:30 p.m. over Zoom. Huntington said the workshop is about using art to combat bigotry, and the banners made at the event will be hung around campus. 

On April 11 at 7 p.m., Arts & Ideas will be screening the 2017 animated film, “The Breadwinner,” in the McCarthy Center Forum. 

During open forum, Outreach and Events Coordinator Emily Rosenberg said she has concerns about the changes to class registration for the Fall 2022 Semester. 

She said registration occurring at an earlier time is problematic for commuter students since there could be a conflict with their classes. 

She added she is “frustrated” that honors students won’t be able to register early, meaning classes they need could be filled before they are able to register. “Being able to have our classes in the timeline that we need them and being threatened by not having the classes that we need is very frustrating.” 

Ward said she agreed with Rosenberg, and said, “Honors classes fill up crazy fast. 

“I get it, it’s one day and one day may seem like nothing, but students are already not sleeping enough with the amount of work we have,” she said. “And now having to get up even earlier for some students who work really late at night is just not fair.”

Senator Emma Laurie said multiple students have visited the SGA Office asking if there were face masks available. 

Laurie said, “Maybe because we’re starting to lift the mask mandate, they’re not supplying masks anymore,” and added masks should be available to immunocompromised individuals. 

Vice President Emma Sullivan said one of the problems is people taking entire boxes of masks left throughout campus and suggested leaving boxes in classrooms, which “might deter people because they’ll have an entire group of people watching them.” 

She also suggested having “advertisements” so students can know where to find face masks on campus. 

During Officer Reports, Ward announced the “Art with Impact” event on April 12 at 5 p.m. in the Alumni Room. The event’s theme will be on sexual violence.

Ward said the FSU Health Center will be holding a suicide prevention event titled, “The Fresh Check Day,” April 15 from noon to 1:30 p.m. and are looking for members of SGA to host a booth. 

Sullivan reminded the members nominations for SGA are “going live” March 30 and will end April 14. She said anyone who wants to remain on SGA must reapply for their positions. 

She added Candidates Night will be April 21 on Zoom, and election day is April 28 with voting times from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Rosenberg announced a community gardening event which will take place April 1 at 1:30 p.m. behind the O’Connor Lot. 

She added she will be hosting a “sustainability and kindness event” April 12 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.  

The “U-Rock” was awarded to Senator Mark Haskell by Secretary Sam Houle. Houle said Haskell “always has a positive attitude coming into student government and is always looking for ways to help out, and that’s something I always appreciate.” 

[Editor’s Note: McKenzie Ward is Opinions Editor for The Gatepost. Emily Rosenberg is an Arts & Feature Editor for The Gatepost. Mark Haskell is a Staff Writer for The Gatepost.]