In this article, Torchlight is explaining the publicly available information regarding the position of Senate President within the Student Senate for the purpose of informing the student body. None of the points or information discussed here by Torchlight are an endorsement, agreement, or promotion.
How did Jack Denton become Student Senate President?
Every fall semester, after the Fall Inauguration ceremony for newly elected Student Senators, the first item of business is for the new Student Senate to elect a Senate President. Only the sitting Student Senators are able to vote on Student Senate Leadership. Last year, at the first meeting of the 72nd Student Senate, Jack Denton was elected as Senate President. He held the position until his removal over the summer.
How was Jack Denton removed from the position of Student Senate President?
Jack Denton was removed from the Senate Presidency on June 5, 2020 after an initial failed vote by the Student Senate to remove him on June 3, 2020. The vote to remove him came after students expressed concerns over comments that were made in a student group chat. Since his removal as Senate President, he has served as a Student Senator without any further leadership positions within the Student Senate. He was removed through a vote of no confidence following the Rule of Procedures of the 72nd Student Senate, specifically section 1.8. The Rules of Procedure provide guidance on the detailed functioning of the Student Senate, but are superseded by both Student Body Statues and the Constitution of the Student Body. The policies outlined by these documents are in turn superseded by both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Florida.
Why is he being reinstated so long after his removal?
After his removal from the Senate Presidency, Jack Denton appealed to the FSU Supreme Court to hear his case, but it was unable to be heard because the Justices were still being confirmed within the Student Senate. Once a full court was established, in part due to the Chief Justice appointing a temporary Justice to fill the FSU Supreme Court, the case was heard on October 19, 2020. The opinion of the court was released on the SGA website on Monday, October 26, 2020, and included “a writ of mandamus ordering his[Jack Denton’s] reinstatement as Senate President.”
How does this impact the functioning of the Student Senate?
Jack Denton is once again the Student Senate President, and, per any new developments, will be presiding over the Student Senate meeting on both October 28, 2020 and every Student Senate meeting after until the end of his term. His responsibilities include assigning submitted legislation to a committee(s) for review, appointing Student Senators to committees, and signing resolutions and other documents of the Student Senate as needed. For further information on the role of the Student Senate President, see Rule Two of the Rules of Procedure.
The Fall Student Government Election will be taking place on November 10, 2020, and Torchlight encourages all students to not only vote, but to also research the candidates and political parties prior to the election. After the inauguration of the newly elected Student Senators, a new Senate President will be elected and the 73rd Student Senate will begin. Any currently sitting Student Senator is eligible to be nominated and run for the position.
Once the new Student Senate begins, all pieces of legislation currently in committee for debate or being prepared for a final vote need to be resubmitted, beginning the consideration process again. Based on the timeline for the current Student Government election, the Student Senate likely has three meetings prior to the Fall Inauguration to vote on all current legislation, including those that are time sensitive. In order to fund and advocate, the Student Senate needs to be able to conduct business effectively and meet quorum, or minimal required attendance.
Current projects being considered within the Student Senate through legislation include advocating for increased CPR training for students and staff(Resolution 98), a commemoration of breast cancer awareness month(Resolution 95), funding for the FSU Food Pantry and WVFS Radio Station(Bills 109 and 111), proposals for in person Fall 2020 graduation ceremonies(Resolution 93), and many others. Students can be engaged with ongoing projects through attending Student Senate meetings or checking the SGA Website or Torchlight Legislative Database Tracker for updated information.
What can the student body do to be engaged on this topic?
Since the decision to reinstate Jack Denton, organizations, members of the public, and multiple Student Government entities have voiced their opinion on the matter. The six Student Government Agencies(Black Student Union, PRIDE Student Union, Veterans Student Union, Women Student Union, Asian American Student Union, and Hispanic/Latinx Student Union) released a public statement on October 27, 2020. Additionally, a petition began circulating advocating for those who support the previous vote of no confidence removing Jack Denton as Senate President to sign it.
To engage in Student Government, the student body can email their representatives in the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and Judicial Branch using the publicly available information found throughout the SGA website, or presented on the Torchlight SGA Contact Page. Similar to sentiments stated by the Executive Branch in their June 5, 2020 letter, the Torchlight contact page also includes the following disclaimer in regards to contacting Student Government members: “Please be respectful of their time, conscious of their mental and emotional health, and speak to them as you would want someone to speak to you.”
The next Student Senate meeting is on October 28, 2020 at 7:30pm via Zoom, with forms available for students to request to speak in public comment. The Executive Branch also hosts monthly town halls, the recordings of which can be found on the SGA Instagram page. To be engaged as a member of the Student Government Association, open positions are consistently updated on the SGA Get Involved page.
*Further analysis of the FSU Supreme Court opinion and other related documents are ongoing, and this piece has the potential to be updated with that analysis and other information as the situation develops. Students with requests for research, legislative analysis, or other concerns are encouraged to contact us via email or fill out a research request.
*In preparation for the upcoming fall Student Government Election, Torchlight will be releasing content related to the voting process and major issues currently facing our student body in the coming weeks.