Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: FAMU getting back on track

Florida A&M University got a much-needed booster shot earlier this month when it learned its academic probation had been lifted. The announcement ended two years of bad news for the university, which came under intense scrutiny after the 2011 hazing death of a member of its famous marching band. With the university's accreditation no longer in jeopardy, FAMU needs to keep marching toward rebuilding its reputation, serving its increasingly diverse student body and choosing a leader who will ensure it never makes the kind of missteps that tarnished the university.

Founded in 1887 as the State Normal College for Colored Students, FAMU has long been a leader among historically black colleges and universities. It is one of the nation's largest historically black colleges and was named the 1997-98 College of the Year by Time magazine and the Princeton Review. The university's greatest marketing tool was its Marching 100, a band with membership that swelled to 400 and was heralded worldwide for its superior musicianship, high-energy performances, sharp formations and energetic dance moves. Yet it was that showpiece that nearly crippled the university. In November 2011, 26-year-old Robert Champion died after participating in a brutal hazing ritual in which he was beaten on a band bus in a hotel parking lot after the Orlando Classic football game. The investigation into Champion's death revealed a culture where hazing was rife and institutional controls were few. Amid the scandal, FAMU's president resigned. Its band director retired. More than a dozen former band members were charged with manslaughter or felony hazing. And a family mourned the death of their son, who was a drum major when he lost his life in a bid to fit in. The academic probation levied by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools stemmed from Champion's death and from questionable internal audits at the university.

FAMU responded by suspending the band. It came back in September after 19 months, instituting new rules that put teeth into its antihazing policy and introducing other strict standards for the Marching 100. Now FAMU needs to look ahead. The board of trustees, which plans to pick FAMU's next president in January, should select someone who understands the university's mission and vision, will set ambitious goals for the school and give its students the tools to achieve them. Protecting the university's brand is the responsibility of the new president but also of every faculty member, staffer, student and alumnus. The university has a rich heritage that is so easily sullied if all invested in it fails to protect it. When the crowds return to see the Marching 100, let them find a FAMU on the highest of Tallahassee's seven hills that is united, controversy-free and accountable.

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Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17