Since last summer, the 2001-2002 “Leading Light” administration” has worked to upgrade and expand student government’s channels of communication with the student body. Besides using standard methods such as fliers, posters, dorm storms, newsletters, and advertisements in the Famaun, we instituted the weekly “SGA Talks” show on WANM 90.5, made numerous special appearances on FAMU 20, and created a professional-grade website, http://www.famusg.com, to help us share information faster and more effectively. Information on the presidential search process consistently headlines all of our communication efforts.For this reason, we are saddened and puzzled by Juresha Maples’s recent remarks in The Famuan , in which she asserted the student government executive branch “…highjacked our interests by forcing us to support an initiative for which we were never even consulted.”Maples declared that, “The issue is the method of communication that the participating leadership of the ‘Leading Light Administration’ has chosen to present this matter to us, the student body.”If you object to our communication methods, then show us better ways. If you can’t be reached by television, radio, campus-wide publications, face-to-face visits, offices and meetings with open-door policies, or the Internet, then please tell us how we can get information to you.The most puzzling part of Maples’s argument is found in her question: “Was there really a credible effort to notify us of the various consultant visits, meetings and most importantly, the role that we should have played in the process?”On the one hand, Maples accuses us of hijacking student interests by allegedly dictating a petition initiative, and then other hand, she faults us for not dictating the role that the student body should play in the process. She argues that the student body should be able to use student government as “vehicle to determine our course action,” while also arguing that students should wait for student government to “notify” them of their appropriate campus leadership role.In the student body that we know, students do not wait around to take marching orders from student government or anyone else when it comes to issues that affect them. In the student body that we know, most students already understand their role when it comes to the university’s leadership. Most students understand that we must demand the university community recognize and respect the fact that we, the student body, are the reason for this university’s existence.Additionally, Maples claims that “there should have been surveys asking what the students want in their new university president.”We did not have to ask because the students told us.Students say that the university president must understand that students are the reason for the existence of the university. He or she must be a person with a vision. He or she must be committed to customer service and fairness. He or she must not be afraid to combat the unfairness and favoritism that often prevails in our administrative.Their voices were heard. Their impact was felt.Everyday, the student body makes it crystal clear to us that they are in control of their student government. There is no “hijacking” of student interests because the student body, at least the one that we know, commands ownership of it. As members of your student government, we in the executive branch are all about the business of translating your concerns and ideas into actions. Collectively, we as a student body are the visionaries. In student government, we are the ones who focus on getting results.The “Leading Light Administration” is dedicated to including, not excluding, every voice in our student body. We want to hear what you have to say. We’re here because of you. If you don’t know-ask. If we’re not reaching you-tell us how.Our doors remain open.
Larry O. RiversDirector of Student LobbyingFlorida A&M University Student Government(850) firstname.lastname@example.org.