Thursday Florida A&M University held its first town hall meeting for the school year.
In the universities ongoing effort to end hazing, students were welcomed by a host of panelists in the Alfred Lawson Multipurpose Center, ready to discuss the importance of FAMU recognizing the change needed to stop hazing.
“I think students need to be educated on what hazing is a little bit more,” said Felicia Barnes, a coordinator in student affairs. “I think we have been touching it, but we needed to get the whole student body involved. Having this and letting them know that we are committed to ending hazing; we want them to be just as serious as the university.”
As panelists were asked what they define as hazing, Hank Nuwer, a researcher and author on hazing, defined it as “an equal opportunity of disgrace.”
“It [hazing] is newsworthy because it is often a collision of the strange and the bizarre,” Nuwer said.
He assured FAMU that it is not alone in the practice of hazing, but it can spark the change to end it. “Florida A&M has the chance to change the culture of society in general.”
Panelists gave comments on ways students can bring hazing to an end and Dr. Na’Im Akbar, a clinical African-American psychologist, received a round of applause as he said, “It starts with self-knowledge, leads to self-love, which leads to self-respect.”
Elizabeth Allan, a professor of higher education research at the University of Maine, informed students that if they are not helping to resolve practices of hazing, then they are apart of the problem.
“The good news is there are many ways you can be apart of the solution”, Allan said. “You can make an attempt to learn about hazing and share your knowledge with others through social media and outreach to local schools. You can accept the challenge of working with your peers to develop alternatives to hazing traditions and you can refuse to be a bystander.”
The meeting also instilled awareness of hazing among FAMU students as well. Taurris Wilkes, a senior in political science, from Camilla Ga. said, “I made a recommitment to anti-hazing and spreading the word out to everybody and making sure hazing is no longer.”
Ashley Bruce, 20 year-old, pre-pharmacy student from, plans on making her personal commitment even though she is not in an organization, “Hazing is wrong,” Bruce said. “No one should make you do anything you don’t want to do. That’s violating your rights.”
The FAMU Marching “100” band was in attendance as well as the band president, Brandon Cunningham, who asked band members in the crowd to stand in honor of their commitment to end hazing.
“We have to put FAMU before everything that we do,” Cunningham said. “Before you are a member of an organization, you are a member at FAMU.
The President of the Marching “100” Alumni Band Association Victor Gaines also took the opportunity to acknowledge the band as his first time speaking out on the topic of hazing. “Those students of the Marching “100 ” that are here I thank you all for your tenacity, your doing the right thing. I want to be one of the first people to be there on the field when you return,” Gaines said.
As FAMU’s Interim Dean Larry Robinson, gave closing remarks, students were asked to answer poll questions geared toward their views on hazing. When asked if students were likely to report hazing if they witnessed it, 67% of students responded “likely” that they would.
To learn more on hazing, sign the pledge to stop it or find out how you do your part, go to www.StopHazingAtFAMU.com.