Stage set for Friday’s Impeachment Hearing

Florida A&M’s Judicial and Rules Committee held a meeting Wednesday to review and discuss their role and answer any questions regarding the decision by the Student Senate on Monday to impeach SGA President Tonnette Graham.

Judicial and Rules Chairman, Pernell Mitchell gave a brief overview of Monday’s meeting. After his review, the gallery was open for questions.

Students were hesitant to ask questions; however, once the ice was broken by the first question, several others followed.

Students asked how Graham was able to move funds without anyone noticing until after the fact. Derek Keaton, Senate president, explained that those who were consulted were not current members of the Senate.

“Some point between April 30 and June 30 the changes occurred. I was not notified of any change. Whenever I inquired I was told everything was going smooth.  I was not notified until July about any changes,” Keaton said. “There wasn’t any communication between the student body president and myself. In her defense she contacted the 44th Senate president.”

Keaton also said that an impeachment ruling does not mean removal from office, and Graham can receive a two-thirds vote and still retain her position as SGA president.  

Graham addressed the student body in a press release expressing how she believes the vote for impeachment was a personal attack:

“The impeachment vote brought against me by a minority group of the FAMU Student Senate is

regrettably based upon what appears to be personal agendas instead of the most important agenda – the needs of our students,” she said in the release.

Chairman of Student Relations, Victor Chrispin, told students that this proceeding is nothing personal.

“This is not an act on attacking Student Body President Tonnette Graham, it is an act of doing what’s right as the duty of a student senator,”  Chrispin said.

Chrispin clarified that funds were not missing, or used improperly. Funds were only improperly placed, he said.

“The impeachment is proceeding not because of unreturned funds, but because of funds being moved improperly,” Chrispin said. “As student leaders we have to hold each other accountable, it was because of the malfeasance conducted.”

Mitchell hopes this will be a learning process for all members of the Student Senate and for the student body. He wants to move forward and make sure the students are aware that business is being conducted properly.

Keaton believes that all of this could have been avoided had he known prior to the funds being transferred..

“If I had known I would have called a summer Senate session, and we would of addressed that and we wouldn’t be here,” Keaton said.

Associate Vice President Thomas Alexander was present but he chose to not answer any questions.

“I can’t have any comment; I am just here for observation standpoint,” Alexander said.

The impeachment hearing is to begin Friday at 6 p.m. in the Senate chambers.