( Graphic / Zenith Shrestha )
The Student Government Association (SGA) amended the process of choosing homecoming queen by removing the interview portion, but they violated their Code of Laws by not posting permanently the new amendment for students to see and contest it.
MacKenzie Martin, a senior communication major from Pensacola, Florida, and a justice on the SGA Supreme Court, tried to appeal the bill.
She searched through the Code of Laws and discovered SGA is required to post all amendments to its social media and to its website, but no amendments had been posted since 2019.
She found out the SGA had a meeting over summer to decide to amend the homecoming queen election process by removing interviews.
“Doing this almost guarantees that an independent will never be on homecoming court because it would be determined by a popularity vote,” she said. “The system in place is designed to keep Greek life in power.”
“Since it (the homecoming election) is a representation of the student body, we wanted to make it more of their thing rather than a faculty-staff thing,” said SGA President Nicole Jayjohn, a senior marine biology major from Daphne, Alabama. “It was to make it more simple on the girls, more fair, less stressful overall.
“The idea of making it a two-election process and getting rid of the interview was more to make it about the students.”
Nominees are selected by a committee of faculty and staff, who review resumes and letters of recommendation. While an interview used to count for the top 15, the winner will now be chosen by popular vote.
“If they (students) would like to make changes to the selection process, we would love to hear ideas on that, and we’re planning on meeting after homecoming this year so that we can work on ways to change that,” Jayjohn said.
Since amendments were not posted, Martin was unable to find the documentation of the change.
“I was so confused on why I had never heard of this amendment, because as a Supreme Court member and independent, I would have went and argued against the bill and lobbied to senators to vote no,” Martin said.
SGA has been posting their amendments by posting the live videos of sessions on Facebook, usually lasting about an hour, and posting on Instagram stories, which disappear after 24 hours of posting.
SGA Supreme Court Chief Justice Jacob Bruner, a senior political science major from Headland, Alabama, said the failure to post amendments comes from a series of small mistakes.
“It was a lot of little mistakes that snowballed into this whole thing,” he said. “We had faith in the legislature that they were doing everything.”
After realizing this, SGA will begin a judicial oversight board to serve as a check for the legislature, where justices review legislation passed.
“We’re going to look and see first off if a rule is constitutional, second of all we’re going to see if all the proper procedures have been followed have been filed,” Bruner said. “The supreme court is a very diverse group of students.
“We have the best of the best minds on it.”
Jayjohn admitted the SGA made a mistake.
“I didn’t know personally that that was a stipulation in the Code of Laws,” she said. “I am familiar with the Code of Laws, but I don’t know every single little detail. I will admit to that.
“We are making changes — we aren’t trying to hide anything.”
Martin’s concern grows into a larger issue that has been debated for years — if the SGA ultimately supports Greeks.
“I am Greek, but SGA comes first,” Jayjohn said. “We want students to feel comfortable and come and speak to us about any issues they have.
“Give us the chance to prove that we’re not trying to hide anything. Allow us to do that and act on it.”
Martin said she is still frustrated.
“Keeping the students in the dark about policies that directly affect them is not democratic and also means that everything that has been voted on this year was voted on without being informed about what the constituents want,” she said. “I want more students to feel like their voice matters and they can voice their concerns to their leaders, and they can’t do that if they have no idea what’s going on.”