Shortly after midnight Friday, Chief Justice Kendra Rich relinquished the title of Mr. Florida A&M University from Cyrah Hawkins.
Students piled into the senate chambers Thursday for the trial of Hawkins v. Nathaniel Holmes and the royal court.
Hawkins, who was elected Mr. FAMU for the 2006-2007 academic year, appealed the writ of injunction that hindered him from performing the duties of that office.
Before the trial, which started at 7:30 p.m. but deliberated from 9 p.m. to midnight, Hawkins asked why the university would not want to have a Mr. FAMU present during recruitment since enrollment has declined.
After hearing the verdict, Hawkins quickly stood and declared, “I will appeal this in the Office of Student Affairs.”
For 119 years, FAMU has produced student leaders and elected officials of high esteem, said Whitney Murray, the Attorney General for Student Government Association, in the trial’s opening statements. Most importantly, these students are leaders in the classroom, she said.
“Cyrah Hawkins has not continued the legacy of the university,” said the junior political science student from Jacksonville. “The student body System of Statutes at 608.1A, 1, states, ‘The following are requirements to declare for and to hold elected office: 1) The SGA President and Vice-President and Mr. and Miss Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.8.'”
Holmes, the royal court adviser, told the court that at the beginning of each academic year, he is required to run an eligibility check.
When the defense called Hawkins to the stand, he said that at the time of the campaign, his GPA was above a 2.8.
Earlier this semester when the writ of injunction was issued, Hawkins sent the The Famuan an e-mail, which was later published, stating his GPA.
“I currently have a 2.733,” said Hawkins when the prosecution asked him to read a sentence from the e-mail.
The defense argued that there are inconsistencies between the constitution and the statutes within it.
Adrian Jordan, 22, Hawkins’ defense attorney, said there are only three requirements to declare candidacy.
The potential candidate must be an enrolled student, be a full-time student and not have been convicted of any major offenses.
According to the FAMU Student Body Constitution’s literal interpretation, said Jordan, a fifth-year business administration student from Washington, elected officials must have a 2.8 GPA – not higher or lower – to hold office.
“If the writ of injunction is not lifted, then I will do as Ebony Ivory Manchion did as a regular student and ask for a temporary restraining order for Phillip Agnew, Monique Gillum and Stephanie Evans. And that will turn into a writ of injunction for them because the document says you have to have a 2.8 flat,” the former Mr. FAMU said.
But the justices did not see things Hawkins’ way.
“It would be absurd for the petitioner to be allowed to serve in the capacity of Mr. FAMU with a grade point average below the par due to the language of the statutes,” said Rich in the FAMU Student Supreme Court’s verdict.
She also said the defense’s argument was subjective and had no real grounds.
“The intent of the statutes is that Mr. FAMU maintain a minimum GPA of 2.8 while running for and holding office,” Rich said.
The constitution needed to be revamped because there were some discrepancies in them, Manchion said.
“When the document was written, it was supposed to work a certain way. But there were things that were not accounted for that are now occurring,” the student senate president, Manchion, said before the trial. “I think the process set out is a little unclear.”
Manchion, 21, a fourth-year business administration student from Fort Lauderdale, said, “So now it is the senate’s job to go back and reevaluate the process and fix it in the documents.”