Budget cuts, anti-hazing and student retention concerns have rocked the not so solid foundation of Florida A&M.
Students, faculty and staff have been blitzed by these matters, but just who is behind the decision-making in these controversial issues?
Surprisingly, the majority of students do not know.
Of 35 students asked, only about 15 percent knew the Board of Trustees, a 13-member group appointed by Florida’s governor and the Board of Governors is the governing body of FAMU responsible for the university’s rulings and policy-making.
“I honestly have no idea what the BOT does,” admitted Kenneth Richardson, 21, a fourth-year physical therapy student from Birmingham.
“I’ve heard of them, but never anything in depth,” he said.
According to the FAMU BOT Operating Procedures, the board’s purpose “is vested with all powers and the authority to govern and set policy for Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, as necessary to provide proper governance in accordance with laws of the State of Florida and with rules and policies of the Florida Board of Governors.”
Board members, who are unpaid, meet quarterly to discuss matters of the university such as a recent nearly $20 million budget cut projection for the 2012-2013 academic year.
The presidents of the Student Government Association and the Faculty Senate also serve as trustees during their terms in office.
All appointed members must be confirmed by the Florida Senate.
Administrative powers and duties of the BOT include selecting, retaining and replacing the university’s president, who serves as the board’s corporate secretary, and holding the president responsible for FAMU’s day-to-day operation and management, its fiscal accountability and its compliance with state laws and rules of the BOG.
The board may also adopt rules and policies, consistent with the university’s mission, to fulfill its obligations under the law.
There are several committees within the board: Budget and Finance, Audit and Compliance, Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Facilities Planning, Direct Support Organizations (DSO) and Anti-Hazing, which was recently added to study and recommend ways to stop hazing on campus.
Roland Vance, 20, a junior political science student from Miami, said he was surprised to learn about the anti-hazing committee.
“Seeing what our school has gone through in the past few months, I think it is good that the issue of hazing has become serious enough for the BOT to form a committee based solely on this,” said Vance.
Operating procedures, policies, agendas and minutes, and university regulations are available at www.famu.edu/BOT. You can also contact Rosalind Fuse-Hall, the BOT chief of staff, at 850-599-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One particular aspect students should know is the BOT has procedures allowing interested groups or individuals to request public board meetings, granted in Article 8 of the Operating Procedures. Students often complain about their voices not being heard, but many are unaware of open opportunities to voice their concerns.
“I had some prior knowledge of the BOT, but I never knew us students could request a meeting with them,” said Jarryd Reid, a senior elementary education student from Tampa.
Reid also said that students should learn more about the BOT, and other aspects of FAMU’s administration, so they can “step up and take action.”
“People always complain about things not getting done. What are you doing to get them done?”