Off the hook— SGA ignores checks and balances for over a year

Illustration by Guido Gonzalez/ PantherNOW.

 Bernardo Mandalho | Contributing Writer 

SGA unacceptably operated without a judicial branch established for over 15 months. In the absence of one of the powers, our student government went against the implemented policy model, ignored the structures and prioritized other responsibilities for long enough. 

The seven positions of the judicial branch have been vacant since April 2021.  

SGA President Cristofer Lugo said in a previous article, that by July 18, they would have some nominations; but the judiciary branch was appointed now, in mid-August, making it clear how slow and marginalized the process was.  

Lugo justifies the delay with bureaucracy and demonstrates how “comfortable” it was to govern without a moderator. 

 When the executive branch assumes almost all responsibility, it defeats the purpose of checks and balances and eliminates the responsibility of protecting the moderation of each branch. 

As described by the National Conference of State Legislatures, “Separation of powers, therefore, refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another.” 

President Lugo justified this lengthy process by saying it was out of his control, as the process required time to choose the correct candidates. He also explained that the email migration delayed the process due to candidates losing SGA’s replies. 

Lugo established the appointees of all four associate justices, the attorney general, a student advocate and a clerk of the court.

The confirmation of all members was planned to be completed on Monday, August 29.  

However, only two nominees were confirmed in this session. So, we still have to wait for the others to be confirmed by the Senate. 

“A handful of the candidates did not see the email because of the migration until a few weeks later, which further slowed down the process,” said President Lugo. “As you can see the process can take time, therefore we don’t want to rush it.” 

There is validity in the justifications, but it’s unacceptable how long it took to take action. Even though the process is complex, it must be done proficiently and with maximum effort.

As the student body, we deserve better than more excuses from SGA, like justifying a slow and relaxed judicial selection. 

Lugo said that with the permission of the Chief Justice, he can interpret ambiguous lines in the constitution by himself — basically doing judiciary work, which totally goes against the separation of powers.  

The judiciary is also responsible for the trial and execution of office members who present misconduct, low attendance and other actions. An offensible situation that goes unpunished opens the door for an unstable and disreputable government. 

 According to the SGA constitution, the responsibility for appointing the members of the judiciary lies within the executive branch, so its absence is strictly the fault of the previous government of former President Alexander Rubido, who also prioritized other tasks instead of nominating a solid judiciary branch. 

There is no excuse, FIU students deserve a properly formed and complete student government, especially ever since this mess began. 

All SGA members must remember that they are at the service of students, just like any other government leader.  

Having no judiciary branch for over a year is intolerable. It’s great to hear that they finally concluded it, but we can’t disregard the importance of the three branches.  

This is such a basic mistake; Political theory always discusses the importance of structure and to have SGA neglect for almost two years is unprofessional.  

I hope that a scenario like this never happens again. Now, with a solid and stable government, we can expect productivity and moderation from all branches. 


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

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