SGA’s fall election season underway

With student government elections set to begin shortly, and campaign week well underway, the candidates for graduate president and vice are running uncontested.

Sandy Jean Philipe and Rachel Young declared candidacy as write-in candidates Thursday, after realizing that no one was running for the positions.

“With the graduate positions, there’s always a smaller amount,” said Student Government Electoral Commissioner Tiffany Cartwright.

Cartwright recalled last year’s elections where there was also only one pair who ran for graduate president and vice president.

Saasha Wheeler, 22, a graduate student from Fort Lauderdale, and social activities chairperson for the Graduate Students Association, attributes the lack of involvement by her peers to a lack of knowledge.

She hints that graduate students do not know what running for such positions entail, in terms of dates, deadlines to turn in information and the like.

“Most graduate students are on campus after five,” said Wheeler, suggesting that this may be a reason for their unawareness.

Candidates running for each position were expected to declare candidacy between Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 to make sure that their names would be printed on the ballot.

All other candidates have until today to declare candidacy as write-in candidates only.

Demetri Jones, 22, one of the candidates for graduate senator, said that perhaps graduate students don’t see the urgency of the positions because their duties are overlapping – making reference to the positions of secretary of graduate affairs in the executive branch of the student senate and the various positions within the Graduate Students Association.

If no one else declares candidacy for graduate president and vice president, students will be given one of two options.

They can either vote for “none of the above” or vote for the write-in candidates, Jean Philipe and Young. If more students vote for “none of the above” than for the write-in candidates, declaration of candidacy for those positions will be opened again and a special election will be held.

If more students vote for Jean Philipe and Young then they will automatically win.

With positions that have competitors, 50 percent of the votes plus one is needed to win. If no single candidate or twosome receives 50 percent of the votes plus one, then the candidates with the two highest numbers of votes will participate in a run-off election to decide the winner. Run-off elections will be held Sept. 15.

The graduate students who declared candidacy for the upcoming elections are not only excited about the positions they are running for, but they also have many ideas on improving both Florida A&M University and the graduate class.

“I wanted to have a lot to do with recruitment … my view of FAMU is very fair,” said Wheeler who has plans to seek the implementation of a graduate computer lab on campus.

Wheeler, as well as 22-year-old business administration student Bianca Lee, is running for the position of graduate attendant.

Wheeler said she is interested in insurance for graduate students, as well as informing graduate students of the monies available to them through various grants and scholarships on campus.

Lee has plans to implement a graduate mentorship program, an undergraduate to graduate mentorship program, a column in The Famuan titled “Graduate Corner,” and publicize and encourage more involvement in the graduate feeder program.

The freshmen candidates have also brought fresh ideas to improve the freshmen class.

Gayle Rivers, 18, one of the contenders for freshman senator hopes to create an environment where freshmen can personally bring their concerns to her if they encounter any problems.

“I’m your voice inside student government,” said the South Carolina native who said she is eager for the opportunity to serve her freshmen class.

“I’m strong enough for the position,” said freshman attendant candidate Patrice Donelson.

Donelson,18, hopes to start a campus-wide safe sex project which would involve counseling, information on prevention, a hotline and more, to help combat the rising percentages of sexual transmitted diseases on black college campuses and in the black community.

Candidates Aaron Brown, 18, and Kiluanji Watkins, 17, both from Detroit, are running for freshmen class president and vice president respectively, and both described themselves as “driven.”

These two young men plan to bridge the gap between upperclassmen and underclassmen, and set standards for freshmen in student government by making sure the needs and wants of the freshmen class are portrayed and not overlooked.

Brown also has plans to unify the freshman class because, in his opinion, “if we unify and become one, we can accomplish more goals.”

Contact Kalifa Hickinson at