There seems to be a bit of dÃ©jÃ vu – differences concerning a college yearbook force it to be locked away, never to be seen.
The 2000-2001 Rattler yearbook, the Little Black Book, is currently prohibited from distribution. Strangely similar to the Kincaid v. Gibson case settled just last year, Florida A&M’s administration cites problems with the book’s title, the color of the cover, missing photo captions and grammatical errors.
However, this case has an interesting twist. Two weeks before last semester’s final exams, editor Holly McGee questioned the disappearance of $10,000 from the yearbook’s operating budget. McGee said she inquired about its disappearance, but when she got no answers, she wrote an editor’s note in The Rattler that may have caused the yearbook ban.
“To the sneaky, back-handed and disrespectful person who simply moved more than $10,000 from the yearbook budget without so much as a ‘by your leave,’ you should be ashamed of yourself,” McGee wrote. “What gave you the right to cheat both the yearbook and the students of this institution?”
McGee and Hayes refuse to let their hard work go to waste. The two young ladies are demanding answers from the administration.
“I think it boils down to the fact that the money came up missing,” Hayes said. “No one ever explained it to me. They don’t want people to hear about it. Otherwise someone would have to take the fall for it.”
Student Activities Director Ronald Joe and Interim President Henry Lewis III, met with Hayes on Tuesday to discuss the matter. President Lewis seemed willing to help the yearbook staff. He gave Hayes a copy of a yearbook marked with grammatical errors in 15 places that he wanted corrected.
“The president told me that if I could find the money in the budget to fix the errors, then after they were fixed, I could distribute the book,” Hayes said. She must make her decision before she meets with the administrators again on Jan. 30.
It’s unbelievable that the administrators at FAMU would allow a year’s hard work to go to waste over an editor’s note that was obviously not meant for anyone but the money thief.
Although it’s almost comical to bring in the First Amendment over something as trivial as the color of the cover of a yearbook, freedom of speech does protect even the smallest forms of expression. FAMU owes its students their yearbook now – not seven years down the road, after a lengthy court battle.
-J. Danielle Daniels for the Editorial Board.