Florida A&M University responds to reports stating they did not follow hazing rules

Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 28, 2012

UPDATED (12/28/12 at 11:30 p.m.) --

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- Florida A & M University failed to follow state regulations on hazing, according to a federal report released Friday.

These findings were part of a 32-page report released Friday.

The investigation was ordered after the hazing death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion 13 months ago.

 Champion died after being beaten by fellow members of the band.

 The report comes the same month that a regional accrediting organization placed the school on probation for a year.

Florida A and M's interim president Larry Robinson says the university has already been taking steps to detect and prevent hazing at the school. And some FAMU students agree, saying they've already seen the school take action.

Students and officials of Florida A and M University are reacting to a new report released saying university officials failed to follow state regulations in the years leading up to Robert Champion's death.

FAMU graduate student Giana Washington says the school did take some action previous to the hazing incident.

“As far as directly no indirectly yes. Holding anti-hazing rallies on campus, but I mean it still happens everywhere not just at this school but everywhere,” she said.

“I feel that they did do a pretty good job with the things that they tried to do. You know, kids are going to be kids, try to break rules any way they can,” said FAMU senior Michael Jones.

FAMU interim president Larry Robinson released a statement Friday saying "we have been, for the past year, working to address many of the concerns cited in the reports.  We have developed and implemented many new policies and procedures already and have others in process."

Some students say they have seen an increase in the efforts since last year.

“I think they are putting forth the effort to increase the different precautions and stuff of that nature,” said Jones.

Since last year's incident, school leaders have set up a number of mandatory symposiums for students. They say they've also set up a web site where students can anonymously report hazing.

Larry Robinson says the university would closely review the report from the Florida board of governors inspector general's office. He says that the report will be used to see whether or not more changes need to be made to university procedures.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- The findings from a year-long investigation show that Florida A&M University officials failed to follow state laws and regulations regarding hazing. Below is Interim President, Larry Robinson of Florida A&M Universities response to the reports. 

“We have been aware of the Board of Governor’s investigation and the topics under review. We appreciate their hard and dedicated work, which has culminated in these reports. We will thoroughly review the reports and determine the corrective actions we may need to take.

We have been, for the past year, working to address many of the concerns cited in the reports. We have developed and implemented many new policies and procedures already and have others in process.

The university has enhanced eligibility requirements for band participation, strengthened membership intake processes for clubs and organizations, revised procedures for group travel and increased awareness of our anti-hazing policy and initiatives.

In the Division of Audit and Compliance, we have hired a new vice president, hired Sniffen and Spellman, P.A. to perform an audit of the 15 incomplete audits, and we are implementing corrective action plans. In terms of P-Card use, we enhanced the management and oversight of P-Card use and conducted a mandatory training session for all users. In the travel department, we have enhanced the approval process for band travel and revised the process to issue funds to travelers.

To support our zero tolerance for hazing, we have developed a clear roadmap for the reporting and investigation of hazing complaints. We have created the position of special assistant to the president for anti-hazing, who would be responsible for tracking all complaints and ensuring they are fully investigated and resolved.

We have also created two new positions in our Division of Student Affairs — a director of judicial affairs and a coordinator of judicial affairs — to provide additional support and oversight and have developed an anti-hazing website that would be both a resource for information and an avenue for students to seek help and report hazing.

We have also enhanced and clarified the criteria for future band membership while separating the duties of the Director of Marching and Pep Bands from that of the chairman of the FAMU Music Department. Another new position – a music compliance officer – will ensure that only students who meet the criteria will participate in the bands.

We are working to formally codify these guidelines and procedures to ensure that they are in place for all future administrations.

These are just a few of the actions that we have taken or are underway in each of these areas. We will continue to monitor these areas to ensure that we are getting the desired results. Our goal is to make FAMU an even safer environment for our students and ensure that our students benefit from our strong academic programs.”

Larry Robinson

Interim President, Florida A&M University