Locked Out: Student Government member wrongly removed from his position

Student Government doesn’t know their own rules, and Carter Lewis is paying for it with his job.


Student body president Kathryn Edmunds (left) overstepped her bounds when she fired Carter Lewis (right) on Oct. 8. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer (L) and Gregory Cox | Managing Editor (R)

Gregory Cox, Managing Editor

On a Thursday morning, Carter Lewis walked into the Student Union and headed up the stairs toward his office like any other day.

The office of Carter Lewis remains vacant. Gregory Cox | Managing Editor
The office of Carter Lewis remains vacant. Gregory Cox | Managing Editor

This time, something was different. He put his key in the door and turned, but he couldn’t get in. “That’s when I realized the locks were changed,” said Lewis, who worked as the elections chair since fall of 2014.

He, and other members of the Elections Board, run the Student Government elections. Their job is simple: to make sure there is a fair election, that everyone’s voice is heard and that students have the opportunity to vote, according to Lewis.

Student Body President Kathryn Edmunds fired Lewis via email on Oct. 8, the same day he realized the locks had been changed. Her reasoning: He couldn’t perform.

She explained that “certain things had not been followed or done properly and we want to have someone with the leadership who has the ability to fulfill the job.”

But those who work closely with Lewis don’t agree with Edmunds.

“He puts forth a lot of effort to expanding the Elections Board,” said Ryan Klimar, marketing director for the Elections Board. “Without him, elections don’t work.”

Lewis reached out to SG advisers Allison Rodgers and Shontae White for guidance, who recommended he appeal the decision to the Student Government court.

The following day, Oct. 9, Lewis filed a complaint to the court.

Executive Director of Campus Life Brett Klein told Lewis, “whether the process was right, or whether the process was wrong, the court is handling it,” in a conversation within the halls of the Student Union, just outside of Lewis’ office.

Lewis’ problem: The court dismissed his petition on Oct. 20.

“I wasn’t invited to the court hearing. I couldn’t explain myself,” said Lewis. “I never had the chance in person to talk to the justices.”

The court’s written statement explained Lewis was failing to fulfill his job description, but did not reference specific duties that Lewis did not do.

Lewis’ petition shows the constitution differentiates between members of the President’s Executive Cabinet  — who work directly with the president — from all other university-wide committees, councils and boards.

Although Lewis is appointed by the president, the statutes do not explicitly state he is a member of the PEC.

The Elections Board works separately from the president because they run the elections that the president runs in.

“I’m not supposed to work closely with the president. It would be a conflict of interest,” Lewis explained.

Members of the PEC can be fired by Edmunds for reasons outlined in the 500 statutes. The removal process for an Elections Board member is highlighted in the 300 statutes.

To remove an Elections Board member, the court must first determine if the board member violated elections policies. Then, the president, with agreement from the student senate, may remove any member of the Elections Board.

Edmunds followed the process to remove Lewis as though he was a PEC appointee.

Vice President Casey Martin made note of the differences in the statutes.

“The executive statutes give the president the power to fire appointed positions, whereas in the elections statutes, it clearly outlines the specific statute for removing an elections chair,” said Martin.
Edmunds does not think she deterred from the rules.

“I think that myself and my teammates showed that through the entire process, we followed every rule and made sure we were going about it the right way,” Edmunds said.

She refrained from sharing any specific statutes that Lewis broke, explaining “those were all things that we submitted through the court, and I’ll leave it on those records.”

“It’s baffling how many of their own rules are broken, and then not saying how I’ve broken the rules?” said Lewis. “It’s ironic.”

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The court — as outlined by Sunshine State Law — is required to provide a 24-hour public notice for meetings, and they did not.

This means all rulings are now considered null and void. Chief Justice Kahlil Ricketts  — responsible for running all court meetings — declined to comment.

The delays affect more than just Lewis. They also hinder the Elections Board from doing its job.

“We don’t even know what to do. I’m not even sure if I can keep my job. A new chair can clean house,” Klimar said. “It’s such a mess, and we’ve been working cleanly since the [fall] elections.”

Former chair of the Elections Board Michael Brown doesn’t think this position is something that just anyone can do.

“It’s my belief that nobody comes into the FAU SG elections position and does the job well the first time,” said Brown. “It’s one of those things that you’ve really got to find your footing for and learn from experience.”

As Lewis waited for the court’s decision, Edmunds ran an Elections Board meeting that would have been held by Lewis on Oct. 15.

“With the current state of elections, I will be stepping in and assisting in making sure that elections is functioning successfully,” Edmunds’ email read. “I will be chairing the meeting.”

This presents some red flags. Edmunds, a junior, is eligible to run for president again.

“This is someone who can run for re-election, chairing the body that facilitates and bodies the election. It doesn’t sit right with me,” said Boca Raton Campus Governor Chris Ferreira.

A new court date is set for Oct. 30, when Lewis and Edmunds will both submit their cases.

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Check back at upressonline.com for updates.

Gregory Cox is the managing editor of the University Press. If you would like to contact him regarding this or other articles, email him at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter.