SGC-MMC VP confirmed after months of uncertainty

Joshua Ceballos/Assistant News Director

After months of confusion, the Modesto Maidique Student Government Council president appointed a new vice president and was confirmed by the senate.

Jose Sirven replaced Jordan Thompson, who was disqualified from becoming vice president after the elections in April because he crossed the designated boundaries of the campaign zone while wearing an FIYOU campaign shirt, according to SGC-MMC Krista Schmidt in an interview with Panther Press.

Sirven was the former campaign manager for the political party FIYOU and former president of the Residence Hall Association.

Schmidt, presidential candidate for FIYOU, and Thompson won the elections against FIUnited candidates Michelle Juarez and Gabriela Millan in April 2017.

“I was announced as president and my VP was disqualified,” said Schmidt. “It took a while to get everything figured out. This was something that was unprecedented.”

The University’s legal counsel, Schmidt said, advised her to appoint a new vice president and have the senate confirm him, as is stated in the SGA constitution.

“In the case of resignation or removal of the Vice President, the President shall appoint a Vice President to be confirmed by the senate. This appointment must be confirmed by a two thirds (2/3) vote of the senate,” states the FIU SGA Constitution in Article IV, Section 5 letter D.

In an interview with Panther Press, Sirven said that as former president of RHA and a presidential candidate during Spring 2016, he felt he had the experience necessary to help Schmidt in running SGC-MMC.

Appointed vice presidents must be confirmed by the senate, but Sirven was not confirmed until the beginning of Fall 2017, although he was appointed in the Spring.

“I had to decide ethically what I’m able to do and what decisions I could make without being confirmed, but still having to run an entity as big as Student Government,” Sirven said.

Jose Toscano, director for Campus Life at MMC, said Sirven was not confirmed during the summer because of ongoing training for the new senators.

“We held senate workshops every other Monday just to help them get better prepared because we felt that as a senate they weren’t necessarily concentrating on the bigger picture, and I think it was very good for them to see how to create goals for the university,” said Toscano.

Sirven was confirmed during a senate meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2017 with a vote of 25 out of the 26 senators present at the meeting, meeting the requirement of two-thirds of the 37 total senators, according to the senate meeting minutes for Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Sirven’s appointment to the vice presidency and Schmidt’s eligibility as president has been challenged on multiple occasions since April, according to Larry Lunsford, vice president of student affairs.

“If you’re talking about last spring’s election, there were maybe a dozen or more charges filed back and forth against [both political parties] in the election,” said Lunsford.

Lunsford shared with Panther Press a copy of the decision made on an appeal for a case levied against Schmidt. This decision is also available on under “Judicial Branch,” and “Krista Schmidt Appeal.”

In the cases Mandall v. Schmidt and Ex Parte Mandall, the SGC-MMC Supreme Court, led at the time of the cases by Chief Justice Sergio Molina big brother in Greek life to Juarez and Millan ruled that Schmidt was guilty of the following:  becoming president despite the disqualification of her running mate; for appointing Sirven; and for appointing cabinet members without a VP, according to the appeal document.

Sergio Molina, former chief justice of the SGC-MMC said to Panther Press that he is “big brother” to Juarez and Millan, the two losing candidates from FIUnited.

In Greek life, a “big brother” acts as mentors to new members.

Lunsford has the power to amend the student government constitution and has deciding power in legal cases when asked to step in, as stated by the constitution and Lunsford himself.

Lunsford, as shown in the appeal document, overturned the ruling in Mandall v. Schmidt on all charges.

The entire ballot of a party can only be disqualified if the presidential candidate herself was in violation of the rules and is “disqualified two weeks or less from the start of voting,” according the SGC-MMC statutes. Because it was Schmidt’s VP that violated the rules, and because the incident occurred during the voting process, Schmidt herself cannot be disqualified, he said.

Lunsford further ruled that the president does have the ability to appoint a VP to be confirmed by the senate, and although the circumstance of disqualification is not explicitly stated in the constitution, this power still stands.

Lunsford also wrote that Schmidt did appoint cabinet members with a VP.

“While I agree with the SGC-MMC Supreme Court that the SGC-MMC Statutes require appointment of Executive Cabinet members by both the President and the Vice President, there is no record evidence in Ex Parte Mandall to suggest that Schmidt did not act without the Interim Vice President in making the referenced appointments,” wrote Lunsford in his statement. “Therefore, the appointments of the Executive Cabinet were authorized.”

The original case brief for Mandall v. Schmidt is not available on the SGA website.

Despite the turmoil, Sirven said that he and SGC-MMC needs to focus on their current and future responsibilities. Schmidt, for example, sits on the Board of Trustees.

“We need to move forward because there’s a lot of stuff we have to do day in and day out,” said Sirven.

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