The reversal of the decision to allow the Anti-Hazing Committee to be outside the Sunshine Law is much welcomed; I wish it didn’t take pressure from Scott and Colson to make this happen.
On March 23, the AHC requested exclusion from Florida’s Sunshine Law. On Friday, the university’s Trustees changed their minds after Gov. Rick Scott and Board of Governors Chairman Dean Colson urged the BOT to do so.
Trustee Belinda Shannon argued that the AHC needed to be out of the Sunshine Law in order to “accomplish its work in as expeditious a fashion as possible.” Members “need the ability to speak with one another spontaneously and on a continuous basis.”
I don’t understand why this would require being outside of the Sunshine Law. Our administration is no stranger to last-minute, emergency call-in meetings. Wouldn’t this suffice?
Trustee Shannon’s argument was enough to sway the BOT, but I do not agree that the AHC should function outside the law.
I respect the trustees who were against the change in operation. Trustees Kelvin Lawson, Rufus Montgomery and Narayan Persaud were the dissenting votes.
Trustee Lawson voiced his opposition to the change. He said it was not “consistent with the board’s direction and represents a strategy/scope change” that would have “serious implications for the university.”
I couldn’t agree more. If one committee is allowed to completely function behind closed doors, what else is being done in secret?
Like Scott, I questioned which member of the committee would be responsible and accountable for steering all discussions away from matters covered by the Sunshine Law.
It is essential to keep the AHC in the Sunshine to stay with the university and board’s vision of being open and transparent. All the information gathered about hazing activities at FAMU should remain open to the public. Attempts to quietly solve issues internally have never worked. Every time the administration makes a move without considering the consequences, something or someone makes them change their minds and reverse their decisions.
Scott, perhaps, has spent more time focusing on the activities of Florida A&M’s administration than any state university. In a time of such scrutiny, university officials should not further push the boundaries of the legal norms.