Campus Life | November 13th, 2020

FAMU ’24 Elects New Senate Seats

By: Xavette Allen
FAMU ’24 Elects New Senate Seats

There is a new set of leaders for Florida A&M University’s class of 2024. This fall semester aspiring student leaders vied to serve their class and campus through acquiring a position as a freshman senator or head of the class cabinet. Fall elections are a lively time on FAMUs campus under normal circumstances. However, due to COVID-19, there were many restrictions on how the campaigning process was to proceed. Moving everything to a strictly virtual outlet, students were to adhere to CDC guidelines and refrain from meeting others to secure the safety of everyone involved.

This turn of events took a lot of the candidates by surprise as their initial plans would have to undergo alterations. On Nov. 12, 2020, students cast their ballots for who they believe should secure a senate seat. After vote tabulation, YuKwon Toney, Tianna Battles, Christian Aristilde, Nyla Sams, Andre McClain, Ariel Burks, Imani Goodman, and Malachi Gibbs were elected to the 50th-51st Student Senate for the next two years.

“I’m blessed to be allowed the chance to make my mark on the university and to be a student leader gifted with the ability to advocate for my class,” says YuKwon Toney, a first-year Broadcast Journalism scholar from Tampa, FL. Toney also clinched his race with the most votes out of all the candidates. “The opportunity means that my classmates believe in me, and I won’t let them down.”

Senators recognize that it is their job to make sure that the voices of the student body are heard and addressed. However, for Senator-elect Christian Aristilde, being a senator is more than that.

“Being a senator means being entrusted,” says Aristilde, a first-year criminal justice student from Haiti. “It means that my class trusts me enough to make sure that a difference is made.”

Many student leaders face the pressure of balancing student government involvement, academic engagement and class participation. Malachi Gibbs believes that placing the advancement of his class first how he will successfully navigate it all.

“The betterment of my class is my first priority,” says Gibbs, a first-year music education scholar from Sebring, Fla. “As a class, we have overcome numerous obstacles and challenges just to step foot on the hill. So, to say that I am even a part of this class is to set me apart and I will do everything in power to make sure that my classmates feel the same about themselves as well.”

A lot is expected from these students as a lot was promised during the duration of the campaigning period. While the student body is aware that there will be some things that will be out of their reach now, it is the initiative that matters. For if there is one thing that these leaders understand, it is what it is like to be a student. That is one of the advantages of having students lead other students. They understand the problems and concerns because they deal with them as well.

“My biggest goal is to work with the counseling department to put together programs that address and emphasize mental health awareness,” says Aristilde. “Mental health is an important subject to me because I have lost friends to the poor care of their mental being. Friends who I believed were happy but were overwhelmed and hurting to the point where they allowed it to consume them.”

There is not much that can be predicted as far as how things will proceed from here with COVID-19 halting university activities, but Goodman believes her seat is still proof that anything is possible amidst the pandemic.

“A piece of advice that I would give my fellow classmates is to never give up,” says Imani Goodman, a first-year political science student from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Remember to take each day as they come and never back down from a challenge.”