The Florida A&M judicial branch plays an active role in protecting the rights of students, though many remain unaware of its functions. The cause of student naiveté is often related to unawareness of their student rights, in addition to a two year hiatus in most judicial activity due to the lack of a chief justice.
Kashif Smiley, a professional MBA candidate from Miami, is serving as the new chief justice of FAMU’s judicial branch. Smiley said the judicial branch hopes to eliminate student unawareness by holding open events this year.
“We hope to inform students of their rights,” Smiley said.
Smiley also said the judicial branch plans to have at least five events this year to help students understand both the Supreme Court and traffic court better.
Some of the events on the agenda include a Know Your Rights Forum, which the judicial branch hopes to host once a semester.
“Many students do not know the rights they [have] and what [the Supreme Court] actually does. We want to pass out copies of the governing documents and have an open forum for them to ask questions,” Smiley said.
Smiley said the judicial branch hopes to host Traffic Jam both on FAMU’s main campus and the FAMU College of Law twice this school year.
“This event is to inform students of their rights for parking and the appeals process,” Smiley said.
Before any plans can be cemented, the court is awaiting approval from the senate for the necessary funds.
Students like Brittany Garvin, 20, a third-year pre-nursing student from Miramar, and Paige Romans, 17, a first-year pre-occupational therapy student from Fort Lauderdale, hope the events get the funding needed.
“I really would like to know more about my rights. It’s in the constitution, but the constitution is more than 60 pages, and no one wants to read through all of that,” said Garvin. “Having these events would help students understand what they should do if they believe they are being treated unfairly.”
Romans said she thinks the events should take place more than every semester.
“Information like this should be given out every semester, and even at orientation,” said Romans. “It would help students know what to do if they are given any reason to appear in court.”
In the meantime, traffic court is held every Thursday in the SGA building, and allows students to appeal any campus traffic citation. The appeal is listened to and the court decides whether to maintain or overturn citations.
“The Supreme Court works mostly during elections and when we get cases from judicial affair rendering sanction ranging from warning to expulsion,” said Smiley.
The Supreme Court has trials when a student gives a request.
According to the student body constitution and system of student body statutes, after a student makes an appeal, a trial should takes place within one week. In the event of an election dispute, trials are held within three days.
If students are unsure of what their rights are, they can view the student body constitution and system of student body statutes on the FAMU website in the SGA section.
According to the student body constitution and system of student body statutes, announcements of all court-held sessions are public, while hearings can be open or closed to public.
Smiley said students should know the court has an open-door policy and encourages them to learn their rights by coming by anytime, if they do not understand or can’t find the information online.