Bruno, Harrison want to do plenty in short time as SGA leaders at FAMU
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Two days after the FAMU Electoral Commission declared him and his running mate leaders of FAMU’s Student Government Association, Justin Bruno began preparing to tackle as many of the issues that he promised students that he would.
Bruno and vice president Devin Harrison endured 11 months of controversy, following an election that they won over Victor Chrispin Jr. and Pernell Mitchell II. However, because of a challenge of possible violations at the Law School campus in Orlando, the Crispin-Mitchell ticket challenged the outcome.
The issue went as far as the 1st District Court of Appeals, which ruled the matter should be settled by students. The school’s election commission sought to have another campus-wide election earlier this month, but since Crispin had graduated and Pernell will graduate this spring, Bruno and Harrison were allowed the president and vice president seats uncontested.
Bruno is a senior engineering student from Orlando, while Harrison is a junior public relations student from Tallahassee. They were sworn in this past Friday by interim president Larry Robinson.
They will have four months to serve out the term that they should have started last spring. Bruno said he hopes he and Harrison could deliver on many of the issues they campaigned on last year.
The proposed construction of a student services center is one of their immediate concerns, Bruno said. Plans called for the building, which will be a one-stop facility for student services at the start of each semester, to be built in an area between Gibbs Hall and the old Gaither Gymnasium.
Bruno said he’ll push to make sure that students are engaged in the planning phase of the building.
“We want to make sure that when those changes are made that the people who have the authority to make those changes do their research to make sure when those changes are made they don’t negatively affect the students,” he said.
This time last year, Bruno and Harrison were campaigning for the position. Elections for the 2017-2018 school year will take place next month. Harrison has already announced his intentions to run for the presidency.
Bruno said his plans also include making sure that no future candidates would have to go through what he and Harrison did. He said he will bring his proposal for changes in the election law to the Board of Trustees, which he hopes will form a review committee toward making the necessary changes in the election laws.
“On that committee, I want to make sure we are doing the best we can to monitor what goes on so students aren’t disenfranchised the way they were in this election,” Bruno said. “Mistakes were made and things were done improperly.
“We don’t need to point fingers but we need to make sure that going forward it never happens again. What happened to me in this case, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.”
Attorney Mutaqee Akbar, who represented Bruno in the suit, said he is willing to assist in having the election laws reformed. Some of the briefs that were presented in the case could be a good start, he said.
Akbar praised Bruno for taking a stance, which he said could help college students realize that they should fight for their rights.
“Campuses are a microcosm of our communities as a whole and they need to be the ones going full force in all of our issues,” he said. “If we quiet them, then we set them up to wait your turn when they leave the university. Things like this (Bruno’s persistence) can empower that generation.”
Bruno was focused on taking the next immediate step, though.
“I play my cards right for the sake of the student body and the university,” he said “I can do some things substantial in the next four months.”