Student Government Association officials convened Thursday to discuss the possibility of changing the Student Constitution stipulation, prohibiting Mr. and Miss FAMU from being married.
Freshman Senator Travis Williams said the meeting was called in response to last September when Tevieca Johnson was temporarily ineligible to run for graduate attendantafter officials discovered she was married. The Student Supreme Court issued a Judicial Opinion permitting Johnson to pursue her candidacy.
The court cited the Non-Discrimination Policy Statement that guarantees each member of the university the opportunity to work or attend classes, free from discrimination, including marital status.
“We want to know if the Student Senate should take out the clause preventing Mr. and Miss FAMU from being married, or if the rule should also apply to attendants and escorts,” Williams said.
The panel, comprised of student senators, members of the Royal Court and Student Supreme Court justices, said it was a personal choice.
“It shouldn’t matter if they’re married, as long as it doesn’t hinder them from fulfilling their responsibilities,” said Freshman Senator Ranaldo Allen.
Miss FAMU Nicole E. Sims, who agreed with Allen, added that she would not suggest it.
“Call me traditional, but when I get married, my first priority is to my husband and child. I can’t see myself out of town every weekend when I should be taking care of my household,” Sims said.
“It’s a major strain, both physically and mentally, on a person.”
Damien Threats, undergraduate adviser to the Royal Court, spoke on the unwritten duties Mr. and Miss FAMU have to fulfill that might conflict with married life.
“Time management is a big issue. You’re asked to do things on very short notice. It can produce roadblocks to fulfill duties,” Threats said.
Williams added that the title of “Miss FAMU” would not change to “Mrs. FAMU.”
Sims further expressed concern in preserving the traditional criteria to run for those specific positions.
“We’re not paying attention to a 114-year precedent. We shouldn’t change rules every time the wind blows. If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it,” Sims said.
However, Nailah Rogers, chief justice of the Student Supreme Court, said prolonging to amend the constitution until someone challenges it, is poor judgment.
“If you know it’s wrong, why not fix it? Don’t wait for problems to come to you,” Rogers said. “As for precedent, tradition will stand up for itself.”
“I think he or she would be a positive role model, especially when marriages end everyday. They’re not just single students here,” said John M. Lee, a senior senator.
Others asked if a married Miss FAMU would be an effective recruiter.
“High school students won’t know she’s married. They see an image, not the person,” Lee answered. “If it were known that she’s married, it proves you can be committed to school and in a committed relationship.”
Sims asked what effect would a pregnant Miss FAMU have on recruitments.
“If Miss FAMU was pregnant, I would not send my child to that school. That’s telling me anything goes at that university,” said Catherine Jefferson, senior union program specialist. “Miss FAMU shouldn’t have any responsibilities outside of wearing that crown.”
Otis Padgett, associate chief justice, reminded the panel that the right to run doesn’t guarantee the right to win and federal laws must be upheld concerning discrimination.
“Prohibiting someone to run because he or she is married can open FAMU up to a large lawsuit,” Padgett said.
The Constitutional Convention Committee will meet Feb. 9 to discuss whether amending the constitution is necessary and other topics.
Bryan A. Davis, legal adviser to the judicial branch, said the committee needs to find a solution to this issue quickly.
“Time changes and other things have to change. If we don’t change the constitution, we leave the judicial branch without a leg to stand on. Sooner or later, this [law] will be challenged.”