Florida A&M’s Board of Trustees Thursday named a former federal judge to head an anti-hazing committee, which will propose suggestions to eradicate the underground practice of hazing at the university.
Former United States Federal Judge Stephen Craig Robinson is one of seven committee members who will decide how FAMU proceeds after Robert Champion Jr.’s Nov. 19 death in Orlando. He will be the chairman. FAMU’s trustees will pay this committee $30,000 for its services.
Trustee Belinda Reed Shannon said the board wants to change FAMU’s policy at an institutional level. “We recognize the seriousness of the crisis facing FAMU and we just want to get in front of that,” said Shannon at a meeting of trustees Thursday. Trustee Shannon has been at the forefront of the committee. Shannon told the board that meeting times have not yet been established, explaining that the committee may meet twice and have several virtual meetings.
Trustee Spurgeon McWilliams questioned Robinson’s qualifications about the membership. “Why was the judge selected as chairperson, because his body [of work] doesn’t say anything about hazing?” said McWilliams.
Shannon explained that Judge Robinson’s expertise on the bench gives him experience with facilitating groups like these.
Along with announcing committee members, Ammons also announced the “FAMU Anti Hazing Research Initiative.” The initiative will focus on strict anti hazing measures; $50,000 has been dedicated to the research over the next 12- 24 months. He anticipates the research will start May 1 of this year.
“I want our faculty members to believe in finding solutions in creating a body of work as FAMU becomes apart of this national discussion on hazing,” said Ammons. The goal is to get staff, faculty and students involved in the research.
“This anti-hazing research initiative will serve as a mechanism to stimulate additional FAMU participation and research to help better understand hazing at FAMU and nationally,“Ammons continued.
Following the recent death of former Marching 100 band member, Robert Champion, hazing has become one of the main issues on campus.
Some students who attended the meeting were not pleased with the selected committee members. Travis Roberts, a former band member and close friend of the late Champion, says he is not worried about the return of the band, but about how the committee members could make a change.
“They only chose one person from FAMU when they should’ve also chosen a student,” said Roberts. “If they want to know why the students do it ask the students themselves.”