OP-ED: FIU is Infringing on SGC-BBC’s Voting Rights

Written by: Brian Levine & Emmajeenie Nozistel

At the core, FIU’s mission is to prepare the students of today to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Therefore, it is puzzling that FIU leadership is trying to stymie students who have risen to the challenge on FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus.

In the Spring, there were students who stepped up to seek out leadership positions in the BBC Student Government Council.  Instead of encouraging these student leaders, FIU arbitrarily changed the rules of how online classes were counted in order to make most of these students ineligible to run for office on their Biscayne Bay Campus.  

When BBC student leadership expressed concern that these rule changes had left BBC without any candidates for SGA President and Vice President, FIU promised that there would be a special election in the Summer in order to fill those vacancies.  Numerous candidates expressed interest in running in the special election.  But despite their promises, FIU did not allow a special election to occur.  

Instead, FIU sought to undermine SGC-BBC in the middle of a global pandemic in hopes of finally being successful in its Don Quixotean quest to merge FIU’s two student government councils into one.   

After patiently waiting more than 6 months for FIU to actually help the SGC-BBC get up and running to effectively represent its students, the duly elected members of the SFC-BBC Senate convened in accordance with the SGA Constitution and Roberts Rules of Order.  In that brief meeting, the Senate elected both an interim Senate Chair and Interim President for SGA-BBC in accordance with the SGA Constitution.  Leaders from most of the BBC Councils were present at that meeting.  The SGA then invited BBC students to apply for the vacant positions in the SGA Senate.  

After more than 6 months of inaction by FIU, the Student Government Council at Biscayne Bay Campus, took the necessary initiative to revive the Council.  We applaud the students in SGC-BBC for rising to the challenge and taking steps to revitalize our student government. This is called leadership and the University should be proud of its students.

However, instead of congratulating these student leaders, FIU has chosen to not recognize the Senate’s actions.  They asked their legal counsel to come up with ways to undermine the SGC-BBC.  

How pathetic is it when a University actively impedes a campus Student Government from functioning? If FIU can’t help, it can least get out of the way.  

The University had the opportunity for 6 months to help the SGC-BBC and chose not to.  Now that students at BBC have risen to fill the void the University had no intention to fill, FIU wishes to impede this student government from functioning.  

When our nation was formed, the Continental Congress did not have permission from Great Britain to form its own government.  The Declaration of Independence noted in one of their critiques of the King of England that he had dissolved their legislatures and “refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected” 

The Students of Biscayne Bay Campus just want their existing student government to be allowed to function.   

Preventing the SGC-BBC from functioning is silencing the diverse voices found on the Biscayne Bay Campus.  This is a form of vote denial in an effort to coerce the students of BBC into accepting a foreign student government that will result in vote dilution. Both vote denial and vote dilution are prohibited by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If FIU is genuinely committed to its Equity Agenda, then it should not take action that undermines the civil and voting rights of students attending Biscayne Bay Campus!

A government of the students, by the students and, for the students, shall not perish from this campus!

Authors:

Brian Levine is the President of the Bayview Hall Council. Emmajeenie Nozistel is the Panthers Square Coordinator for the Student Programming Council-Biscayne Bay Campus (SPC-BBC).  They are writing on behalf of their respective councils.  

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by FIU on Flickr

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