The more open Florida A&M University is in its efforts to deal honestly with a hazing scandal, the better off the university will be in the long run. It was essential that the school's Board of Trustees reversed themselves late Friday and again required its antihazing committee to meet in public. The initial decision to grant the committee's request to change its mission and meet in secret was a mistake that would have undermined public confidence and further tarnished the school's image.
The committee initially persuaded the trustees last month to change its role from an advisory group recommending best practices for eliminating hazing to a fact-finding investigatory operation. That would have enabled the committee to operate in secret in an atmosphere where suspicions on all sides run deep and transparency is a good antiseptic. There would have been too much temptation for the committee to drift into policy areas that should be addressed in public, and there already are credible investigations being conducted into hazing at FAMU in the wake of the death of a band major.
Credit Gov. Rick Scott and Dean Colson, chairman of the Board of Governors that oversees the university system, for helping the FAMU trustees see the light and urging them to reconsider. If committee members resign as some have threatened because of the requirement to operate in the sunshine, they were not cut out for the important job of crafting recommendations for moving forward and rooting out the hazing that has stained the university.