Senate’s semester off to a rocky start

During Wednesday’s student senate meeting, the senate allocated over $1,000 to the art department and one senator addressed the senate with concerns she believes have plagued them for far too long.

In Candice Elliott’s speech, she addressed issues such as the senate’s unclear account balance, meeting cancellations, who has the power to hire and fire students and the full role of the adviser.

Elliott, 21, a junior political science student from Orlando, opened her statement by referencing Hilary Clinton’s recent remarks about the Bush administration running the House of Representatives “like a plantation” and saying the student senate should not be ran in the same manner.

Other senators shared Elliott’s concerns. “I applaud you because you have been one of the senators to stand up and clarify some of the issues that are concerning the senators,” said freshman Senator Willie Barnes, 19, a public relations student from Lakeland.

Hardemon said the issues on which Elliott spoke have been left unchecked for too long.

“Adequate attention has not been paid to this matter about the specific funds in the A & S (Activities and Services) budget,” said Hardemon, 22, a senior business administration student from Miami.

“This puts a handicap on us … and the students from various organizations that come to us needing money.”

Senator Elliott concluded her speech challenging the other senators to “Wake-up and demand to know what is happening because your peers are demanding it of you.”

During part of her address, Elliott mentioned that the Student Government Association president and vice president missing many senate meetings and sending people who do not know the answers to the senate’s questions.

SGA President Ramon Alexander, 21, refuted Elliott’s accusations, saying Elliott knows it has always been the SGA president’s practice to send his chief of staff or deputy chief of staff to meetings in their place.

“It’s been a practice since I’ve been at FAMU,” said Alexander a senior political science student from Tallahassee.

“My deputy chief of staff and chief of staff know everything that I do.”

Alexander went on to say, “They brief me everyday and I brief them.”

Alexander said the reason he has missed meetings is because he has a class this semester, as well as last semester, during the time the senate meetings begin.

But what upset Alexander is not that Elliott criticized him, it is the way she chose to do so.

“It’s unfortunate that Sen. Elliott has utilized such tactics to get attention,” Alexander said. “But no matter what her efforts are to get attention, we’re moving forward.

“I refuse to take anything personal. I love my job; I fight hard for the students,” he said.

Earlier in the meeting, Harris Wiltsher, the Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery coordinator, spoke at the podium.

He expressed the need for $3,000 to be taken from Other Personnel Support Services and allocated to general expenses in order to help with the upkeep of the Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery.

“In the spring of last year over $2,000 worth of artwork and other valuables were stolen, so a security system is needed,” Wiltsher said, noting that almost every art gallery has a solid security system.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ebony Ivory, 21, a third-year business administration student from Fort Lauderdale commented that the money hadn’t been granted in a previous request because they “needed a better explanation of what exactly the money would be used for.” 

Before the meeting came to a close, a motion made by Senate Activities and Services Liaison, Candiace Pelham, 19, to grant the money to the fine arts gallery was passed with a unanimous vote.

Staff writer Brandon D. Oliver contributed to this report.