Gubernatorial hopeful, Smith, visits SGA

The senate discussed its leadership for next year before one state leader and student organization representatives addressed them Wednesday.

Student leadership for the 2006-2007 school year will be decided at next Monday’s senate meeting. Students had to be nominated and accept the nomination in order to be the next senate president and senate pro-tempore.

The nominees for next school year’s senate president are current senators Jasmine Blanks and Anthony Murphy, and current senate pro-tempore Ebony Ivory.

Nominees for next school year’s senate pro-tempore are current senators Christopher Bryant and Mellori Lumpkin.

After the nomination period, Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua, a gubernatorial candidate, spoke to Florida A&M University’s 35th student senate.

Smith spoke of his days at Palm Beach Community College where he was senate president and of his past five years teaching at the University of Florida Law School where he earned his law degree in 1975.

Smith has also spent 17 years practicing law in North Florida.

During that time, Smith gained national attention for his successful prosecution of a Gainesville student murderer.

Smith feels that these accomplishments are some of what makes him a good candidate for governor.

Smith is determined to make some changes in the public school system and the process for financial aid at universities.

He said that in SAT scores, Florida ranks 49th in America and almost 54 percent of black ninth-grade males will not graduate.

Making the Florida Comprehensive Assesment Test a diagnostic test would help the students more than making it an “end-all” test, Smith said.

“We need to invest in our future, preparing them to compete with the world, not preparing them to pass one test.”

He also said teachers should not be rewarded for school FCAT grades, and schools should not be punished because of them.

Smith plans to use $2 billion of the budget surplus for decreasing class sizes and raising teachers’ salaries.

Smith said Florida is short 30,000 teachers and it does not pay as much as other states pay.

Some teachers carpool from Tallahassee to Georgia for a $3,000 to $5,000 pay difference, and one teacher moved to Georgia for a $9,000 pay raise in.

Smith supports Bright Futures, but said “we need more need-based scholarships to afford other students who would not otherwise be able to attend a college or university without the help.”

Smith also feels that the One Florida Plan needs to do a better job providing incentives and opportunities to different races.

Many senators reacted positively to Smith and what he had to say.

Graduate Sen. Jarryd Jackson, 23, a pharmacy student from Bradenton, said: “I think he was very comprehensive in the issues that he talked about. He seemed very passionate, not only about the concerns of students at FAMU, but students who may be looking to FAMU for higher education.”

Before Smith got up to the podium, two organizations at FAMU came before the senate expressing their need for more funding than they were allocated for this semester.

Robbyn Mitchell, 20, a junior newspaper journalism student from Washington, and editor in chief of Journey magazine, told the senate Journey might not be able to print its last two issues because it does not have enough money.

Marching 100 Drum Major Michael Scott and Marching 100 Vice-President Chandler Wilson expressed their need for more money as well.

“Most students have to provide their own instruments while other universities own the majority of the instruments,” said Scott, a 23-year-old music education student from Miami.

Scott also said the instruments the school owns are extremely old and in need of repairs or replacements.

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