The senate meeting on Monday began 20 minutes late due to the quorum not being met at 6 p.m. Despite the late start, confusion and frustration quickly ignited the room in light of troubling revelations regarding the usage of the Florida A&M Student Government Association funds.
An internal investigation conducted by Organization and Finance Chair Larissa Fischer and Moses Brown, a business administration student who oversees all SGA accounts, found someone or some entity was moving around SGA funds without the approval of the Senate.
The investigation included an inquiry into $20,000 used to reimburse the FAMU Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Hudson. The investigation alleged the funds may have paid for select homecoming expenses and possibly more.
While the Director of FAMU’s Budget Office, Nicole Murry, has not accused anyone, the Activity and Service Committee’s accounts are now frozen pending further investigation.
FAMU SGA Attorney General Elijah Hooks returned to his old stomping grounds afterward to give a passion-filled presentation on why he believed the university had been financially getting over on the Senate. SGA funds FAMU’s cheer team, the Marching 100, and the Presidential Ambassadors. Hooks stated during his presentation that the university would and should find the money to pay for the aforementioned programs.
Hooks referenced many other public schools in Florida and found that FAMU was the only university that used SGA funds for university programs. Hooks, however, did not compare FAMU to other historically black colleges in Florida, which drew criticism from some of his former colleagues.
Many senators did come to his defense. Senator Justin Brown, for example, informed the chamber that FAMU is the only public HBCU in Florida, thus making it unfair to compare the school to any other black colleges in the state.
Sen. Brown continued to voice his opinion in support of Hook’s claims.
“We have one of the largest budgets as a black college,” Brown explained. “We have more, but we’re doing less.”
Attorney General Hooks explained SGA’s recent funding of these programs opposed the precedent set years ago. Hooks claimed putting the burden back on the president’s office to pay for these FAMU cornerstones would put over $100,000 back into SGA’s budget. Hooks received applause for his efforts and research after his presentation.
The 53rd Senate filled three vacancies in its latest slew of confirmations.
Sophomore Kaity Gaines was first. Gaines’ confirmation was relatively dicey compared to her counterparts. She fielded a few tough questions and even had to navigate political inquiries specific to Governor Ron DeSantis. Gains, however, prevailed at the end.
Tamera Depriest, a junior, sailed smoothly through her hearing, which resulted in a unanimous confirmation.
The Senate confirmed the last individual, a grad student named Zuri Sims. During her hearing, Sims stated she was a student at FAMU’s College of Law in Orlando, Florida. She commuted to Tallahassee because she wanted the Senate to confirm her in person amongst her peers despite having an early class the following day. Her dedication and commitment went well with current senators, who unanimously confirmed her.
Sen. Tamia Williams said she hopes the confirmation of Senator Sims will help to bridge the gap between FAMU’s main campus and its satellite campuses.