After spending almost two years of my time here at Florida State involved in Student Government and campaigning in three elections, I’m well aware of the fact that 95 percent of the student body still has no clue what SGA is. So, in case you’re wondering, here’s a complete breakdown of all things SGA. I know it’s a lot, but bear with me.
A lot of people get confused about this one and I think it’s mostly because they’re wondering why in the world we would want to put ourselves through two elections a year. Elections take place in both the fall and the spring, usually on the seventh Wednesday of the semester. During fall elections, students can choose to run for Student Senate, Campus Recreation Board or the Congress of Graduate Students (COGS). Spring elections are slightly more intense because we not only have students running for Senate, Union Board and COGS but also Senior Class Council and an Executive ticket on the ballot. Candidates can choose to run as independents or with any of the current campus political parties. These elections are overseen by the Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor of elections, which are confirmed by the Student Senate. The day of elections, ballots are emailed to all FSU students and polls are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Results of the elections are read at the beginning of the Student Senate meeting.
The Executive Branch consists of the elected Student Body President, Vice President and Treasurer, and their appointed cabinet members. Cabinet positions slightly fluctuate every year depending on the current administration but this is where positions like directors and secretaries come into play. Details about the responsibilities of the members of the Executive Branch can be found under the Executive Branch tab on the SGA website.
The Legislative Branch or the Student Senate consists of about 80 Senate seats, which are allocated to each college based on their population. Odd-numbered senate seats are elected in the fall and even-numbered senate seats are elected during spring but any seat which is listed as vacant can be filled at any time through the appointment and confirmation process. Leadership of the Senate consists of the Senate President and Pro Tempore, which are elected by the senators as well as committee chairs and vice-chairs, elected by members of the committees. The Senate has six standing committees, inlcuding the following: budget, finance, judiciary, internal affairs, student life and academic affairs, and rules and calendar. Attached to the senate are also the Programming Allocations Committee (PAC) and the Resources for Travel Allocations Committee (RTAC). Both of these committees provide funding for organizations on campus and consist of a senator as chair and non-senators as members. Senators primarily advocate for students by writing legislation in the form of bills or resolutions.
The Judicial Branch is made up of the Supreme Court, Attorney General and University Defender. Decisions on any violations of the Student Body Statutes or Constitution are decided by the Judicial Branch.
The class councils are mainly programming committees that work to unify members of their graduating classes by hosting events for them. The Senior Class Council, which is elected in the spring, has more specific responsibilities including things like keeping seniors informed about important graduation deadlines and raising funds for the senior class gift.
The agencies of SGA are all identity-based safe spaces that are open to all students on campus. Currently, we have the Black Student Union, Women’s Student Union, Hispanic/Latinx Student Union, Pride Student Union, Veterans Student Union and Asian American Student Union. Agencies function as places to build supportive communities and provide a lot of programmed events for students to attend. Each agency has a Director and Assistant Director as well as executive boards.
The bureaus are specialized projects usually created by the Executive Branch. This includes programs like the Office of Governmental Affairs (OGA), which lobbies the Florida Legislature on behalf of FSU students about key government issues, and the Inter-Residence Hall Council (IRHC), which focuses on engaging with students living on campus. Other bureaus we have include the Office of Student Sustainability, Student Council for Undergraduate Research and Creativity, the Center for Participant Education and the newly created Mental Health Council and Council for Accessibility Advocacy.
Possibly the most important aspect of SGA is the budget. Without the SGA budget, none of the things I just mentioned would exist. The SGA budget of around $13.8 million is comprised of the Activity and Service (A&S) fees that students pay for. Currently, A&S fees are $12.86 per credit hour, meaning the average student contributes around $150 into the SGA budget.