Anthony Halmon (AM Holt)
Second-year law student Anthony Halmon eschewed the traditional fliers, buttons and stickers in his race for president of the Student Bar Association of Florida International University.
Instead, the 24-year-old posted a self-made rap on YouTube that is stirring some controversy in the student body.
In the rap, Halmon alludes to his rough high school years in Tampa when he was kicked out of school for fighting, hung out with a “bad crowd” that took drugs and “stressed my mom.”
The rap ends on a positive note with Halmon intoning about how he turned his life around and “got back to the basics.”
Halmon is running for president of the 500-student law school chapter against Daniel Horton, another second-year law student who is considered the insider. Horton, 28, is the 2L representative on the SBA. He interns at the Reyes Legal Group in Davie and is a member of the school’s Board of Advocates.
When asked his thoughts about Halmon’s song, Horton responded in an email: “I take the opportunity to serve as SBA president at the FIU College of Law very seriously. I have the utmost respect for the FIU College of Law students, faculty and community as well as the professionalism that we strive to maintain.”
Halmon has never been involved in student government before and was previously treasurer of the Black Law Student Lawyers Association at FIU, which was recently renamed the H.T. Smith Black Law Students Association.
Knowing he was a long shot, Halmon decided to do something a little different to grab students’ attention.
“No one has ever thought to do something untraditional as a form of campaigning,” he said. “All people do is stickers and fliers. People are coming up to me in the halls and saying, ‘Is that you? I had no idea you could rap. How long have you been doing this?’ ”
Some people are critical of his lyrics, Halmon said, adding, “I know it’s making waves.”
But he has a powerful fan: Law dean Alexander Acosta, who said Halmon’s rap “has the coolness factor.”
“I don’t see what’s wrong with it,” said Acosta, who is not supporting either candidate. “You have a young man who figured out education matters and really pulled himself up by his bootstraps. This race pits the government insider against the outsider with the coolness factor. He’s a rock star.”
In fact, Halmon has excelled during his years at FIU, already securing a summer associateship at Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, a clerkship with U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke in Miami and a summer job with the Broward County Attorney’s Office.
Dean Colson, a founding partner at Colson Hicks Eidson, says Halmon has a great personality but also has substance behind it.
“He did a great job,” Colson said. “He added personality to the place. The quality of his work was terrific. You can’t forget him. He wants to make a difference, and he’s willing to work really hard to do so.”
Colson said he was unaware of Halmon’s high school troubles.
If elected, Halmon said his main goal will be to help other students secure jobs after graduation, both by encouraging use of the free classified online job postings on the school’s internal website and by meeting with local law firms. His campaign slogan, “JOBS are my #1 priority,” is emblazoned on his campaign ad.
Halmon’s letter to students also may have ruffled a few feathers.
“I get just as excited as the next person about happy hours, Barrister’s Ball and other internal events,” he states. “But make no mistake—I envision making an impact well beyond the four walls of (Rafael Diaz-Balart Hall). As president, I will not simply maintain the status quo. Happy hours should not be limited to students. Therefore, young associates from both the private and public sectors would be invited to allow for meaningful connections in a relaxed atmosphere.”
The online election will be held Tuesday through Thursday. Results will be announced Saturday at the school’s annual Barrister Ball.