Florida A&M University is eliminating the room and board scholarship from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. program’s recruitment package by 2007, said Maj. Willie A. Jackson, executive officer and recruiter for the ROTC.
The removal of the funds comes after a controversial decision by the administration to enforce grade rules.
In August, ROTC began strictly enforcing the grade point average requirement and several students lost their housing scholarships.
“The reason the scholarship is being phased out in 2007 is mainly because ROTC did not enforce the GPA requirement,” said Vincent G. June, vice president of student affairs.
Students who were recruited under the promise of paid room and board in exchange for maintaining GPA requirements may lose their scholarships in 2007 as well.
“I do not agree with that decision,” Jackson said.
He added that it is unfair for students who were recruited under the impression that they would receive housing scholarships to lose them because the university ran into financial hardships. For 18 years, ROTC and FAMU have offered room and board to students. June explained that everything is based on budgets, and considering the university’s current status, cuts had to be made. “The scholarship won’t be completely phased out until 2007, which will give ROTC an ample amount of time to find other funding sources,” June said.
ROTC claimed to have sent out an informative letter in 2002 to cadets informing them about the GPA requirement for the housing scholarship, but that letter never reached the mailboxes of any cadets.
Jackson said the letter was also posted in Howard Hall for cadets to view.
Several cadets claimed to have heard about the news through hearsay, but they said they never received any type of official letter.
“Looking back…we should have sent it out directly,” Jackson said.
Students were not informed about the decision to revoke their scholarships until a week before classes last semester. Many students had already signed housing contracts by this time and did not have an option to get out of the contract.
Some students were then forced to pick up jobs or look to their parents for financial support.
Pequita Thornton, 21,a criminal justice student from Atlanta, believes ROTC and FAMU are not holding up to their promise to students.
Thornton filed a complaint over the arrogation of housing scholarships without proper notice. She was upset when she found out she would not be released from her housing agreement.
Thornton’s mother, Love Barbara, was enraged when she received a bill in the mail for over $3,000 for room and board for her daughter.
“The issue is that ROTC lied to students and didn’t give them any options.” Barbara inquired why students weren’t even put on probation if they were under the GPA requirement.
“ROTC is living up to the stereotype of the army trapping people into upholding their service to the nation – they give you the good and the glory… then once you enlist…they take it all away,” said Keith Farmer, 21, a senior English student from Atlanta and a member of ROTC.
Farmer added that since ROTC is only giving cadets a small portion of their education, cadets should only give ROTC a small portion of their time.
“I think it’s a good decision to phase out the scholarship because it will let ROTC figure out what they need to change about their program,” June said.
June added that cadets signed contracts with the ROTC and that could create a problem for the ROTC if they don’t find other funding sources for these students by 2007.
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