Tensions rise at senate meeting

The sixth session of the 35th student senate was held Wednesday Oct. 5 in the Senate Chambers, complete with tension and the shedding of tears. 

When Andrew Collins, a representative from the executive branch, mentioned that Student Government Association President Ramon Alexander would not be attending the luncheon with Governor Jeb Bush today, several senators questioned Alexander’s decision.

Senior Sen. Torey Alston, a 21-year-old senior business administration student from Fort Lauderdale, raised the point that the governor reached out specifically to the SGA president, vice-president and FAMU student senate president. 

During community forum, a student approached the podium and said she was upset because she was first on the list for speakers, yet had to wait two hours for her turn.

The meeting, which was supposed to start at 6 p.m., started 21 minutes late. The outraged student was present at 5:30 p.m., but was not able to speak until 7:30 p.m.

Most of the five-hour long meeting centered on concerns with the Elections & Appointments Committee (EAC). Comments were made regarding disorganization, miscommunication and lack of accountability within the committee.

The angry student shared the trials she experienced while trying to apply for a vacant senior senator position. The applicant said she tried to contact members of the EAC from Sept. 12 through Sept. 23 to obtain necessary documents, but was not given all of the materials she needed to prepare for her interview and did not have enough time to study.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ebony Ivory responded emotionally to the applicant’s story. Ivory expressed concerns over the reputation the senate is garnering for being unprofessional.

“It’s a disgrace that we have so many people who are so passionate and want to get involved, and they can’t because people aren’t doing their jobs,” Ivory said through tears. “We’re supposed to be there for them.”

A member of the Campus Activities Board was supposed to be interviewed for his position before the senate meeting, but his interviews were cancelled twice, without what he felt was proper notification. 

Prince George Olokun, a 21-year-old senior political science student from Atlanta, said his interview was supposed to be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, but it was cancelled at 5:22 p.m. EAC Chair Sen. Tara Crawford said she notified him of the cancellation at 5:14 p.m.

No interview took place, so Olokun was not confirmed at the senate meeting. He did receive a public apology.

Perhaps the most controversial event of the evening was the motion by Sen. Candice Elliott, 20, to remove Crawford from her position as EAC chair. Senate President Keon Hardemon, a 21-year-old senior business administration student from Miami, seconded the motion and opened the floor for discussion.

Elliott, a junior English and political science student from Orlando, pointed out several specific violations of the senate rules of procedure.

Elliott said the EAC had a duty to promptly fill vacant seats, but their duty was not being done because of the committee’s lack of planning.

Elliott also accused Crawford of violating the procedures for properly notifying committee members of committee meetings and not fulfilling her duties to serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Electoral Commission during the recent elections.

“If you’re too busy for the position, the right thing to do would be to resign,” Elliott said.

Sen. Crawford choked back tears and defended herself by saying the motion did not surprise her. She said, “I don’t like all y’all personally, and I know all y’all don’t like me.”

She explained that she was unable to properly communicate with E&A Committee members because she has two jobs and duties with other organizations.

In response to allegations that senator applicants were not provided all the necessary documents, Sen. Crawford said, “I don’t like to waste paper, that’s why I wanted to give them floppy discs and put information on the SGA website.”

Sen. Crawford also said that because of time constraints, she sent text messages to her committee members to keep them informed of events.

“I don’t feel comfortable calling all of my members because the personal relationship is not there,” she said.

Sen. Crawford also said she did not want certain people to be on her committee. Sen. Alston acknowledged that he was that person, but said he “thought people would be professional enough to put their personal feelings aside.”

Many senators urged the assembly to consider that this was only the sixth week of school.  They asked Crawford if she felt she could do a better job going forward.

Sen. Jasmine Blanks, a 20-year-old junior music education student from Somerset, N.J. said with so many knowledgeable leaders, the issues should never have been allowed to reach such a point.

Several senators left before the vote was cast to remove Sen. Crawford from her position.  A majority of the total senate body was needed, and ultimately, the motion failed.

Sen. Hardemon proceeded with the rest of the meeting by commending the senators who voted for their decisions. Whether they agreed, disagreed or abstained, Sen. Hardemon applauded them all for their courage. 

He ended the session by urging the senators simply to “make this work.”

Contact Driadonna Roland at famuannews@hotmail.com.