Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Editorials

FAMU band not entitled to return to field yet

Florida A&M University students and boosters who are lobbying to have the Marching 100 band reinstated and performing again should have their zeal tempered by a scathing Board of Governors inspector general report that reveals a systemic failure by school officials to prevent the brutal hazing rituals like the one that killed band member Robert Champion in 2011. FAMU officials turned a blind eye to the hazing and repeatedly failed to follow up with law enforcement on at least nine earlier assaults on band members to determine if long-standing rules governing student conduct had been violated. Until FAMU fully implements the changes needed to ensure that hazing is eradicated and the safety of band members is secure, the Marching 100 should remain on the sidelines.

Champion's beating death on a band bus in Orlando exposed Florida A&M's cruel culture of hazing. But as the inspector general's 32-page report notes, long before the attack on the 26-year-old drum major and despite repeated warnings about hazing incidents, FAMU officials had been ignoring its own rules imposed in 1998. This was a culture of de facto FAMU-sanctioned violence.

Since Champion's death, 12 students have been charged in the incident, FAMU's president has resigned and the band director has retired. And those aren't the university's only issues, which include a criminal investigation into the band's finances and false audit summaries by university auditors. A regional accrediting organization also has put FAMU on probation for 12 months, and the university has a year to demonstrate its problems have been corrected or its accreditation could be revoked.

As university system chancellor Frank Brogan wrote last week, the university's issues did not occur by accident or benign neglect. Rather, they are "a direct result of action or inaction by FAMU personnel, who either had not developed adequate policies or simply did not enforce the policies that were in place.''

As for the band, the school has tightened student eligibility requirements for band members and imposed a minimum grade-point average. But much more still needs to be done. Before the Marching 100 is allowed to reassume a role in campus life, FAMU administrators need to craft a broad and detailed set of guidelines prohibiting any form of hazing, create a clear set of consequences including dismissal from the university for hazing violations, and establish unambiguous lines of communication between the school and law enforcement to prosecute hazing offenders. The university also needs to hire a new band director and fill two other jobs aimed at ending the hazing culture.

It's understandable that FAMU's students and alums want to see the Marching 100 back on the field. But first the hard work needs to be completed to better ensure that the new band does not include the old hazing culture that led to Champion's death.

Comments
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
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18