Student senators clash over need for diversity officer

Photo courtesy SGA

Florida A&M University’s Student Senate filled multiple positions during its weekly Zoom meeting Monday evening — with one notable exception.

During the confirmation for Chief Diversity Officer, the senate was divided with opposing viewpoints. Several senators criticized the position, arguing that it was unnecessary, while others felt the opposite.

Senator Bria Calvin argued that the position was pointless and felt that there were already jobs in SGA that are supposed to cover the issues that a diversity officer might be responsible for. Calvin found that holding people accountable in their jobs would be more feasible than creating another position.

“I think the position in itself is a stretch, I feel like we have positions that already cover student welfare issues. We’re just not holding people accountable for doing their jobs,” Calvin said. “I understand what is trying to happen with the position, but we don’t need to just fill the branch.”

Marteis Lewis, chair of the senate’s Student Relations Committee, said the position was a step in the right direction. Lewis said that this position will be important to the student body and that is significant.

“I feel like when looking at this position, we don’t need to look at SGA and if they’re doing their job, we need to look at the student body and what they need ,” Lewis said. “This is a very important topic that needs to be handled on FAMU’s campus. There are a lot of communities on campus that feel like their voices are not heard.”

Jaelyn Guyton, the candidate for Chief Diversity Officer, explained that if other departments in SGA could handle these issues, why was it such a push for this position to be created?

“I don’t believe that there is any specific language regarding LGBT, sexual violence, sexual awareness or assault in any of the departments, if there wasn’t a need for this position then it wouldn’t have been such an outcry to have it,” Guyton said.

In the roll-call vote, Guyton had a light majority in an 8-6-1 vote, but that wasn’t enough. To be successfully confirmed, the candidate would have needed acceptance from two-thirds of the senators. The candidate was not confirmed for the position and will try again next week.

The other three candidates were successfully confirmed. The positions that were filled include secretary of communications, College of Law circuit court associate justice, and deputy surgeon general. Brianna Davis, Daniel Helligar, and Hadiya Clay filled those positions, respectively.