Making the gradee

If Student Body President Alvira Khan is under pressure for delaying the elections, she is also facing scrutiny for something she’s trying to push through right away. It’s a bill that would raise the GPA required to run for student body president. The change would mean students need a 2.5 – a jump from 2.0 – when elections are a few short weeks away.

Some of her political opponents say it’s a blatant move by Khan and her allies to eliminate her competition if she runs for reelection, something she’s been coy about the past few weeks.

“It will be interesting to see who runs for office from this current administration, the ones that are involved with this bill,” said Gary Goldberg, who’s running for Boca Raton governor this April. “If there are less candidates running against them, their odds drastically improve.”

There are other provisions of the bill that raise opponents’ suspicions. One is that the standards look stringent in comparison to other schools.

Under FAU’s new rules, students need a 2.5 overall GPA and 2.5 GPA the previous semester too. This stands out because it’s a higher standard than eight of the nine state schools the UP polled (see box page 14).

David Johnson, the senate speaker and main author of the bill, said he did “a lot” of research to see what other schools were up to. He looked at three schools-FAMU, UCF and FIU.

Johnson, who is a longtime political supporter and personal friend of Khan’s, defends the 2.5 requirement. “I’m not making the standards so high people can’t attain it. I’m not asking for a 3.0,” But he is asking for a 2.5 for the semester prior to election, rather than just a 2.5 overall average when only one other school-UCF-does so. Khan will take the bill before the Board of Trustees on March 3 where it will be ratified, just a month before elections, which is another reason SG hopefuls are looking askance at her actions.

Hopefuls like D’Eugenio who was surprised by the sudden change. As it stands, D’Eugenio, who withdrew last semester for medical and family reasons, can’t run under the new rules. “It’s one thing if they gave us time to get used to the new standards, but I wonder if they’re considering all the legal technicalities,” He hopes student affairs will have policies to deal with extenuating circumstances such as his. “I’m not even against the raise but there’s due process to consider,” D’Eugenio said.

“The bill was passed in January,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t rushed through at all. Procedures were followed.” Khan echoes this statement: “That for me was ample time. In the past we have made changes right before an election so there is a precedent.”

But Khan did acknowledge that the change will affect some people who might have run for office in April. “People are taking it negatively. We should be proud that we are upgrading rather than degrading.” Khan said.

Goldberg calls Khan’s support of the bill complete hypocrisy. “This issue haunted her when she had under a 2.0 and now she wants to argue it for a 2.5.” Khan was removed as governor for 5 months over her GPA (see UP Jan 22, 2004 issue). Under the new rule, Khan would have been out in the cold this election cycle. Her only response to Goldberg is that it is a moot point. She adds, “There was speculation at the time. The fact is that I was wrongfully removed from my office without notice.

Notice future candidates vying for her position say they weren’t given.

Mickey Dutes, Khan’s vice president, and 1 of 3 on the UWC panel who voted against the bill, disagrees with the change, but for different reasons. He said that raising the GPA only excludes students from participating. “FAU is a state university, if students are in good standing and wanted to run, we should give them a chance,” Dutes said.

Others in the current administration agree with Dutes. Helen Marshall, Treasure Coast governor said, “I’m so against this it’s unbelievable. It’s not democratic and it’s not acceptable.”

But Khan said, “Our neighbors have raised their GPAs. Why shouldn’t we? Students should expect more from student government leaders,”

Marshall who also voted no to the bill said just because other schools have done it doesn’t mean FAU should. “Some do, some don’t– who cares. Women are sold into slavery too. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna do it.”

SG will do it in April despite the questions raised and the debate over the timing of the change.