SGA Passes first legislation of fall

Senators discussing legislation on Sep 12 | Arianna Otero, PantherNOW

Arianna Otero | Asst. News Director

SGA approved their first pieces of legislation for the fall session, passing both the Paying for Pantherversary Bill and Victims of Communism and Socialism resolution during their most recent session on Monday, Sep 12. 

Students Angel Armesto and Ashley Perez were also confirmed as associate justices, rendering SGA’s judicial branch the most staffed it has been since April 2021 – although still incomplete.  

The first of the legislation allocated  $1,720 from the SGA’s Legislative Branch line-item fund for their event to celebrate FIU’s 50th anniversary. The bill was passed with the unanimous support of the senate and the celebration will be held Monday, Sep 19 from 6 to 8 pm in Green Library.  

The university also celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015.  

Despite collective teamwork to pass that bill, the meeting did not remain civil for long as most of the senate’s time was spent debating the Victims of Communism and Socialism resolution.  

The resolution, which was originally introduced during the summer session, was the cause of a heated debate within the senate that lasted around an hour.  

It creates a recognized holiday at FIU every November 7 in memory of the “victims of communism and socialism around the world”, and explicitly names eight regimes in its text.

Senators Delano Cicconi, Nathalie Jusino, Matthew Gaynor and Ian Lares-Chacin co-sponsored the bill. Both Lares-Chacin and Gaynor serve on the executive board of FIU’s College Republicans chapter at the time of writing, according to the organization’s page on Panther Connect.  

A similar bill establishing the holiday in K-12 public schools statewide was signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May.  

So many senators voiced their opinions on the legislation that Senate President Alex Sutton decided to step down as chair for this meeting, claiming his own opinions would cloud his judgment. 

Senate Pro Tempore Zachary Stangl took over as chair, attempting to diffuse the fiery back and forth. 

“We did a good job of keeping it controlled,” said Stangl. “Everybody got to say their piece. Everybody felt represented.” 

Contention stemmed from the wording of the bill, with opposing senators calling for the resolution to be titled “Victims of Communist and Socialist Regimes,” while the sponsors remained unmoved on the original wording. 

“My main issue with this was the name which I tried to amend in senate, which it did not go through, was changing it to victims of communist and socialist regimes,” said Senator Mia Rodriguez. “That way, the regimes that have been affecting people were the ones represented in this tribute and not the ideologies themselves.”  

Despite the difference of opinion when it came to wording, most of the senate was in support of the resolution, which passed by a margin of 18 votes in favor and 14 against. 

“FIU is made up of 70% of students who identify as Hispanic. The majority of these students are of Cuban descent, many having been exiled from their own country. Others have heard terrible stories from their parents or grandparents,” said Cicconi. “I hope these students now know that their student government sees them and stands firmly with them.” 

In April, Cicconi spoke out against a similar resolution that encouraged the FIU administration to provide aid to students affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine and condemned the regimes of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.  

“I find it particularly interesting that when a bill goes up to support South American and Asian students also, it was met with such staunch disapproval,” said Cicconi. “I hope our student body will reach out to their senators who voted No in order to find out exactly why they didn’t want to condemn communism, a system that has affected a large portion of FIU students’ families.” 

The resolution was signed by SGA President Cristhofer Lugo on Wednesday, Sep 14.