Friday, September 16, 2016

Smith’s pro-Mangum protests got little support because most FAMU students don’t respect him

In the week leading up to the FAMU Board of Trustees vote on the negotiated exit plan for President Elmira Mangum, “Interim” Student Government Association (SGA) President Jaylen Smith did his best to drum up support for her among students. But his efforts fell flat because most FAMU students don’t respect him.

FAMU students didn’t elect Smith to serve as SGA president. The students chose Justin Bruno to be their SGA president during their Spring 2016 elections. Smith ended up as “interim” SGA president due to Mangum’s mishandling of the student election process.

That didn’t stop Smith from trying to get the Board of Trustees (BOT) to believe that he was the individual who represented the views of most FAMU students. But his mouth wrote a check that his weak leadership skills couldn’t cash.

After a BOT committee approved the proposed exit plan for Mangum, Smith asked FAMU students to join him and protest it outside the on-campus President House on Sept. 6. WCTV-6 footage showed him and only about 13 students holding hands outside the gate of the home.

Brandon Johnson, who was the Student Senate President Pro Tempore under Smith and became “Interim” Student Senate President this year, led a sleep-in protest outside the Grand Ballroom on the night before the Thursday BOT meeting. Only about 20 students stayed the night.

A town hall meeting that Smith called for students on that same night got such a small attendance that it fit in the Student Senate Chambers, which isn’t a large room. It failed to get a big number of students despite an appearance by Mangum herself.

On the next day there wasn’t a large number of students present at the BOT meeting where Smith cast the only “no” vote against the exit plan for Mangum.

Smith doesn’t have the respect of the majority of FAMU students because he hasn’t earned it. He didn’t become SGA president by getting out and working hard to win the campus-wide presidential election. He seemed to think that just being named “interim” SGA president by Mangum was enough. But the lack of student support for his calls to protest shows that it wasn’t.

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