Tuesday, June 19, 2018
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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18