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FAMU Still Reeling From Hazing Death

Barrington M.Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 6/27/2012, 11:34 a.m.

"This is my university. Until the final bell rings I am going to serve as president of Florida A&M," he said, according to published reports.

James W. Haskins, Jr., a retired Professor Emeritus in Journalism, said the decent thing for Ammons to do is to step aside.

"People who say they didn't know are lying. I support the notion that the buck stops with the president," said Haskins, 79, who began teaching at FAMU in 1980. "You can't haze someone without someone saying something. The ultimate responsibility is his. There's no way around it. I think he should resign. Other key players were forced out. There's more than enough culpability to go around."

Haskins described FAMU as a fine institution that unfortunately is "full of deadwood" and plagued by pockets of nepotism, incest, mediocrity and an unwillingness by those who run the university to make the hard choices.

"FAMU really is an outstanding institution because they understand survival in a white world with white people," he explained. "But FAMU continues to fuel its own downfall. Too many people have no backbone or integrity. They see racism and don't understand it, won't stand up and fight this racism and discrimination, won't fight it and seem to busy driving around in their Lexuses, demanding to be called, 'Doctor, doctor ..."'

Ammons suspended the band last year and announced recently that the band would remain off the field through 2013. Other casualties include longtime Band Leader Julian White who was forced out after more than 40 years at the helm; and two music department professors who stepped down earlier this year when allegations surfaced that they were present while band fraternity pledges were hazed. And as the investigation deepened, university officials eventually admitted that 101 of the 457-member marching band were not FAMU students.

In response to the band's problems, the FAMU Board of Trustees has revised its anti-hazing regulation. An anti-hazing plan has been developed by the university at the direction of the trustees. Elements of the plan include the creation of an Anti-Hazing Special Assistant to the president, with broad-ranging authority to address hazing issues throughout the university; the establishment of a FAMU Compliance Officer for the Music Department, with direct reporting to the Special Assistant for Anti-Hazing; the re-organization and expansion of staff in the Office of Judicial Affairs to facilitate the adjudication of hazing issues and other matters pertaining to the student code of conduct. After input by trustees, the university will implement the plan.

Saunders acknowledged that it is "particularly challenging ... to stop [this crime] because of the conspiracy of secrecy and silence between the perpetrator and the 'victim.' However, because of the special nature of this crime, FAMU is putting anti-hazing initiatives in place to help rid the campus of hazing."

"We also know that stamping out hazing requires a personal commitment from our students to treat themselves and their fellow students with respect and dignity," she added.

Saunders said many students have expressed concern about the attention this matter has received and remain committed to leading the national effort to reduce the incidents of hazing.