The suspension of two Florida A&M professors last week for their alleged involvement in a hazing incident came after one faculty member felt Band Director Julian White was being treated unfairly.
Associate music professor Longiuneu Parsons told Tallahassee Police Department investigators he felt White, who is on administrative leave, was being “hung out to dry” while students and faculty are still actively hazing.
Anthony Simons III and Diron Holloway, both professors in the FAMU music department, “actively participated” in hazing at an off campus gathering, according to a March 20 report from the TPD.
A notice from the FAMU public information office said the suspensions followed “allegations of misconduct and/or incompetence involving reports and allegations of hazing within the department of music and the Marching 100.”
The incident was originally reported by a student whose name was not on that report. The student told Parsons about the incident the week after the death of drum major Robert Champion.
The student later reported to investigators that the event took place at Holloway’s residence.
Fourteen individuals pledging the Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity were subject to “prepping” and “necking,” hazing actions where pledges are slapped on the back and neck.
Pledges reportedly were also paddled.
The student said he observed Holloway participating in both events; actually “prepping” and paddling pledges and suffered minor bruises. He could not attest to the condition of the other individuals who were also involved.
Holloway, when questioned by investigators, said that he had hosted a dinner party at his house around spring 2010, although he was unsure exactly when.
Pledges were forced to line-up and “recite information.”
The student told investigators pledges were then directed into a room and called out in pairs and underwent physical abuse.
Holloway said that he instructed individuals involved, “Don’t hit nobody in the face and don’t paddle.”
Holloway denied taking part in the physical abuse of pledges at first, but later said to investigators he was “aggressive in a manner of learning information” and “it’s possible to say that I did do something under the circumstances of all of them coming in at once, maybe I did do something.”
However, he claimed he was not involved in paddling, and said he “should have said enough of that, the party is over.”
Holloway said he could not confirm whether Simons was present.
Five FAMU students, who were present during the incident, were subpoenaed for questioning by TPD.
One student told investigators Simons and Holloway were present at the time of the incident and also confirmed the presence of a wooden paddle.
The full academic impact of the suspension is unknown. But in an email, Provost Larry Robinson said the university is working with Valencia Matthews Ph.D., interim chair of the music department, to ensure classes taught by Holloway and Simons “are covered by other faculty in the department.”
Matthews declined to comment.
TPD spokesman officer David Northway said the case has been turned over to the State Attorney’s Office, which will not be pressing charges at this time due to a “delay in reporting.” The case is considered a misdemeanor hazing, which has a statute of limitations of two years.
The university will conduct an internal administrative and legal review of the case.
President James H. Ammons said pending the reviews, “the university will take appropriate action against faculty members or students, up to and including dismissals.”
A statement released by White’s attorney Chuck Hobbs said, “Dr. White feels betrayed and undermined in that the very anti-hazing measures that he spent an entire career developing and implementing were usurped by staff members behind his back.”