Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Brogan Steps In

With a hug and a handshake, FAU president Frank Brogan and acting student body president Kim Nguyen came to an agreement on how to resolve Student Government’s biggest political crises in the school’s 40-year history.

It’s been two months since FAU has not had a student body president because of a run-off election that was disputed by the losing candidate – who claimed it was unconstitutional.

At the beginning of the summer semester Nguyen was sworn in as Boca governor. Nguyen was then told by administrators she would have to assume the responsibilities of president until the disputed election could be settled and a new president sworn in.

Since then, administrators have attempted to guide SG leaders toward the ultimate goal of finding a new president, yet at times those leaders have shrugged off their advice or simply not listened.

After the election process seemed to be going no-where, Brogan stepped in. He attempted to meet with Nguyen one-on-one, but after she refused to meet alone, the meeting never took place.

So, two weeks later he called a meeting with the entire UWC (SG’s top 13 leaders) to discuss how to get the re-runoff election moving again.

He gave them until the end of July to get the job done, and asked for a written agreement outlining the steps they were going to take to hold a new election. Brogan repeatedly told them that a letter was not questioning their integrity, but “I like things in writing.”

He stressed to the UWC that he, his attorneys and FAU’s Board of Trustees (BOT) had “no political agenda.” “We just want a legally elected president,” Brogan said.

And during the meeting, he repeatedly praised student government in their efforts to resolve the election.

The next day, Brogan stood before the BOT and asked them to approve SG’s $6.2 million budget contingent upon the election being resolved by his July deadline.

“I had an outstanding meeting with the UWC yesterday,” Brogan told BOT members June 28. He then went on to thank SG for working with them. “We will exit this situation better than we went into it,” he later added.

However, just two weeks before Brogan’s tone was decidedly different when he wrote in a memo to Nguyen: “Your denial of presidential authority while using that power and authority, your failure to conduct a re-run election in the time and manner required by the SG policies, and the current dysfunctional state of student government convinces me that the student body at FAU is now being deprived of an effective student government with no representative Student Government President as required by statute and principal.”

Brogan not only expressed dissatisfaction with SG as a whole, he also had harsh words for Nguyen.

“Before you chose not to meet with me last week, you appeared confused about your position and articulated that you are ‘not really the President. […]Despite your confusion that you are not actually the Student Government President, you have made and continue to make presidential decisions including appointing a Chief Justice, calling University Wide Council (UWC) meetings, and exercising other authorities and privileges reserved solely to the SG President.”

However, Nguyen later countered that she did not refuse to meet with Brogan, but instead wanted to bring two other SG officials to the meeting with her that could have possibility answered any questions that she couldn’t.

She did admit to saying that she wasn’t really the president, but that Brogan took her words “too far out of context. I was emphasizing I was the temporary president,” she said. “I could have explained myself a little more.”

Nguyen may have had trouble explaining herself to Brogan, but she didn’t have the same troubles when she wrote to FAU’s vice president of student affairs at the beginning of June.

“The Student Government Association and I are not amused with blatant threats of withholding our funds as well as the constant impeding on our rights as provided by our Constitution and Statutes by one of your administrators,” she wrote.

More than a month later, Nguyen said she still stands behind that statement and that it was what she felt to be true at that time. But didn’t go into further details because that “was the past,” and they have moved forward since then, she said.

Acting Boca governor, Todd Ericson, said that there was a variety of ways that a re-runoff election could have been handled and explained any tension between SG and the UWC as a “process of coming to a consensus.”

“We kind of all fell on the same page,” Nguyen said. “I want to work with President Brogan.” She added, “I would never go against President Brogan.”

Three hours before Brogan’s meeting with SG’s top officials, the UWC removed Elections Supervisor Bryce Jones from office without explanation. In fact, SG officials made a motion to vote on it without discussion. When asked later about why they removed Jones, they cited unprofessional behavior and multiple violations of SG’s constitution.

Most UWC members and administrators did not look at it as moving backwards, and many said it was a step in the right direction. Ericson said Jones was the cause of the original runoff election on being disputed in the first place and this time, “it has to be done right.” Several UWC members, including Ericson, said they voted to remove Jones from office because SG’s student court found that he violated SG’s constitution and because Jones had an emotional outburst at a previous UWC meeting after they decided to put off his tuition reimbursement until a later date.

Jones never denied that he violated the constitution but has always said that it was being violated when he took office and blamed the prior UWC for appointing an elections supervisor six months late.

When Jones took office he had three weeks to put together an election, and because of the short notice, the League of Women Voters – who typically oversee SG’s elections – was not able to commit to a two-day runoff, which is required by SG’s own rules.

However, Jones has also said that he sought approval from both candidates before his decision to hold a one-day runoff. Two-day elections are preferred because many students take classes on alternating days.

Jones never denied his outburst, but defended himself by saying he had been frustrated with the UWC for putting off his tuition reimbursement that all SG’s elections supervisors are entitled to.

One of the three dissenters, Thomas Morris, Treasure Coast senate speaker, felt like it was “a step backwards,” and said his removal would start the election process all over again.

Lisa Bardill, associate dean of student affairs and SG’s adviser, said she still feels like “they’re moving in the right direction,” even after removing Jones.

Broward’s SG adviser, Terry Mena, echoed those thoughts, “I believe they’re moving forward. I have faith in them.”

So what happens now?

The new elections supervisor will have to be confirmed by each of the campus senates and the student court. Election commissioners will then have to be hired and confirmed by the UWC. Once that has been accomplished the new supervisor will have to come up with an elections timeline and have it approved by the UWC. As of press time, the UWC and the Boca senate had confirmed the new supervisor.

Neither the administrators nor any of the UWC members foresee any major problems arising that would delay the election process. And both of them felt like an end-of-July deadline was a reasonable amount of time to put together another election.

Thirty minutes after the UWC confirmed a new elections supervisor, Nguyen addressed the Boca senate and told them that the election would be held on July 18 and 19.

Acting senate speaker Rakibur “Rocky” Joarder quickly interrupted her to clarify that because of the “special circumstances,” of the election the dates had already been decided upon.

However, acting vice president Gian Amato, who spoke after Nguyen had to leave for class, told the senate that those dates had not been decided upon – they were only the possible dates of the election.

Bardill felt that Nguyen may have misspoke and that is why Amato stood up after Nguyen to clarify the situation. She said that those dates haven’t been approved by the UWC yet, which by their own rules has to be.

But the morning after, Pamela Goodman, president of the League of Women Voters said that the election would be held on July 18 and 19.

That afternoon, Nguyen said that because of the “special circumstances,” and short deadline, those dates have been “semi-confirmed.” And more importantly “we don’t want to risk losing those dates.”

However, she stressed that the new elections supervisor would have to bring the dates before the UWC to be approved. She also said she called Goodman that day to clarify that the possible dates had not been confirmed yet with the UWC.

Another dispute?

In the parking lot outside of the senate chambers former Boca senator Louis Green told Bardill he would be contesting the election.

“Already,” she said.

He explained to her he would be doing so based on Nguyen’s comments during the senate meeting.

Most of the members of the UWC hoped that the re-run off election would not be contested, but many of them believed it would be.

Ericson, however, said that this election would be “under such a microscope,” that it wouldn’t be contested.

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