Most recently the student body of Florida A&M University has experienced confusion, uncertainty and misguidance in reference to the Student Body President and Vice-Presidential Election, which ended February 24, 2009. Calvin and I were retroactively disqualified on the basis of a 2×6 banner, which was located on the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Osceola Street, which is not property owned by the university, according to the Leon County Property Appraiser.
Recently after extensive research, individuals who filed the appeal with the student supreme court, found that the land was being leased by the university for upkeep of the grass.
The election process and rules on our campus include a point system made up of major and minor violations. Minor violations, like the 2×6 banner, should not impact the outcome of student elections, according to the Student Body Statues that govern our student elections. Even though minor violations do not impact the outcome of a student election, the Student Supreme Court has made a decision that does impact the outcome of an election.
The following are several other critical points to be made in reference to this matter:
The FAMU Electoral Commission did not disqualify the Franklin & Hayes Ticket. The consistent disqualifications and attempts to do so, after the elections are certified by the Electoral Commission proves how dysfunctional our point system is at FAMU.
Mario Henderson (SGA President Candidate) & Legal Counsel Vincent Evans made an appeal to the Student Supreme Court after the Electoral Commission certified the election results.
The Student Supreme Court did not follow or abide by the Student Body Constitution and Statutes throughout this process.
They violated the student rights of Calvin and I by not informing us of any hearings or trials, nor allowing us or key individuals to explain what happened. The timeline for the appeal process was not followed, and I don’t think the candidate nor ticket should be disqualified if the violation (but in this case the supposed violation) had no impact on the outcome of the election. The points were illegitimate because: We did have the campaign material approved by the commission, though the court said it was not. Because it was thought that FAMU does not own the property, the commission did not asses any points during or after the elections.
Calvin and I filed an appeal with the university administration and are still the Student Body President and Vice-President Elect. (*Note: The appeal process is designed where the Student Supreme Court decision holds NO legal authority until the entire appeal process is complete).
The Electoral Commission also filed an appeal to the university administration.
It’s imperative that we model our election process after processes and procedures that are proven to be effective to ensure that we protect the student body’s opinion and choice for their leadership.
If we do not drastically change our election process, the participation in our student elections will suffer tremendously.
Finally, Calvin and I are truly enjoying the wonderful experience of serving the dynamic student body of FAMU as your Student Body President & Vice President Elect.
We will continue to stand up and fight for students, and ensure that your voices are heard loud and clear. We will not allow the thousands of students that participated in spring elections be muted by minor issues (A 2×6 Banner located on the intersection of MLK Blvd and Osceola Street).
Gallop Franklin is a senior pharmacy student from Tallahassee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Log onto thefamuanonline.com to comment.