Florida A&M’s Interim President Larry Robinson said ensuring academic success will be his main priority during his speech at the annual President’s Convocation on Friday.
Robinson was university provost before becoming interim president after former President James H. Ammons resigned in July.
Old and new faces gathered in the Alfred Lawson Jr. Center as Robinson welcomed the freshman class to FAMU.
“You have entered Rattler territory and you will never be the same,” Robinson said. “I want to assure you that you have made the right choice by coming to FAMU.”
While he understands the challenges brought on by Robert Champion’s death, he reminded students and faculty that the future of the university is in their hands. He encouraged students to get involved in campus life and cautioned that their educational experience will be transformational.
Melissa Timot, a first-year criminal justice student from Orlando, Fla., expressed excitement about her freshman year. She said seeing the university in the news didn’t stop her from choosing to attend.
“It was just one part of the school,” Timot said. “Hazing happens everywhere in all schools. It just happened to be publicized here at FAMU.”
Thomas Hysten, a first-year computer engineering student from Tampa, Fla., said his parents were surprised that he wanted to attend FAMU, but his mind was made up.
“I really didn’t have to say anything. It was up to me,” Hysten said.
Some students said despite the hazing incidents that have occurred, their love for the school and campus involvement has kept them at FAMU.
“The incident was an accident. And like all accidents, they’re preventable,” said Garold Harris II, a third-year economics student from Jacksonville, Fla. “Yet they occur and it shouldn’t be the case to where someone wouldn’t want to come back to the school just because of an accident. We have so much more to offer just beyond our band.”
Robinson introduced programs and mobile applications to help new students ease into college life while staying on track. Included was a website that informs students about hazing and other resources available.
“We collectively will write the next chapter,” Robinson said.
Students can visit www.stophazingatfamu.com