When the FAMU Board of Trustees unanimously approved SGA documents on Nov. 25, they gave the student body the power to oust a government official whom is believed to be doing a poor job.
“(The amendment) will empower the student body to hold their student government accountable,” said Sen. Ramon Alexander, who spearheaded revisions to SGA documents this year.
State law, passed in 2002, mandates that student governments allow student constituents to recall a SGA officer for neglect of duty, incompetence or malfeasance and other offenses.
Impeachments can be instigated by a one-third vote of the senate, but removal can only take place through the referendum process.
“Students must have a right to participate in a student government removal,” said Senate President Michael Morton.
The law guarantees that “the student government process isn’t the end all be all.”
Under old Student Body Statute 910.61 any registered student, or group of registered students, could petition for a recall referendum and recommend that Student Government remove an officer.
Under the revised Student Body Statutes Chapter 903, students are not merely limited to recommending a removal, but “may petition for a removal referendum, to remove an officer from elected or appointed office .”
Students must first meet a few requirements in order to petition.
Petitioning students must be the constituents of the SGA officer they wish to remove from office.
In other words, freshmen students can only petition to remove a freshman senator.
For student body officers, such as SGA president or electoral commissioner, any registered student can petition to remove them.
Also, the senate must first confirm that grounds for the petition are valid.
Alexander said senate approval was added to avoid petty reasons for petitioning such as “the student body president chewing gum in church.”
Another key revision to the statutes ratified by the BOT was how to determine the severity of an election violation.
In past years, election codes provided the definition for violations and left the power to decide the severity in the hands of the electoral commissioner.
Now under Chapter 607 , major violations are listed, such as: destroying ballots.
Under minor violations 18 items are listed including parading on campus or campaigning in the SGA offices or Lee Hall.
Now, a candidate can only be disqualified for major violations and suspended for repetitive minor violations.
Travis Williams, who campaigned for SGA president last spring, is pleased that violations are now clearly defined .
“That gray area does present a slight level of discrepancy,” said Williams, 20. “I’m glad that it is finally strictly defined.”
With the approved revisions, the Student Body Constitution and Student Body Statutes are now in compliance with a state statute.
According to Alexander, most, if not all, state university SGAs are in compliance with Florida House Bill 353 enacted July 1, 2002.