A letter of complaint was issued to the NAACP Florida State Conference and the FAMU Office of Student Activities last week.
The letter was written by former FAMU Chapter of NAACP 2nd Vice President Anthony Cooper, and a mix of both current and past chapter leaders and members.
The letter detailed complaints concerning the needs to be financially audited and investigated for bylaws violated throughout the 2014-2015 academic year.
One of the complaints in the letter was that there had been no annual meeting held to the general body to elect new officers, which according to the bylaws is mandatory.
Concerns were expressed amongst members and communicated to Chapter President Ronald Nelson via group text, but Nelson had removed himself, according to Cooper.
Nelson stated that he was never notified directly by Cooper that the letter of complaint had been filed, but that he knew members raised their concerns, and he and his administration had been very transparent.
The chapter’s current advisor at the time had resigned, which led to a “stand-still” within the chapter until they could find another.
“We were at a freeze or stand still until the state figured out everything and I don’t think membership fully understood that, and I could see where the frustrations came from because even as a leader I was frustrated,” said Nelson.
Nelson had to wait on higher powers to give him the okay to proceed.
“As chapter president I had to wait on the higher-ups,” said Nelson. “Of course the members are going to look towards the executive committee, I think sadly people weren’t patient enough, and I had to be patient as well.”
Members also began to suspect the misuse of funds within the chapter. Cooper explained the difficulty he faced seeing members face these situations.
“The most challenging aspect has been seeing members complain that they haven’t received their membership cards and t-shirts,” said Cooper. “Also, continually wanting to get involved but not being able to fulfill their wishes because of the breakdown in structure within the chapter.”
A member of FAMU NAACP who joined in the spring of 2015, explained that she began to notice that everyone in the chapter was not on the same page shortly after dues were paid.
“The first meeting was not until almost half way into the semester. There was a lack of communication between the members and the President and when addressed, there was always an excuse or he would say something that never came to pass,” she said. “We were supposed to receive t-shirts that we never got and paid for.”
Nelson believed that there may have been a misunderstanding with membership regarding both chapter dues and national dues, and said that there had been “way more than just one meeting” during the academic year.
“There were chapter dues used towards funded programs such as our Thanksgiving Day drive,” said Nelson also mentioning other activities and events held. “For National dues they email you a NAACP card.”
As far as the shirts Nelson mentioned that in the past there have been shirts given, but that his main goal was to be more active this time around.
“The NAACP is different from a lot of organizations on campus. We focus more on policy and civil right actions, other organizations are more social,” said Nelson. “I think sometimes people look for incentives when joining an organization, like what can the NAACP do for me, and what we should say is what can we do for the advancement of our people. There was no incentive and I think that was the disappointment.”
Despite complaints and frustrations that members and the administration faced this academic year, most were inspired to join the chapter because of the involvement in the community, former leadership and what it stood for.
Several members agreed that the main issue at hand was the lack of communication, and that in moving forward those changes are necessary.
Hailey Gascoigne, a member FAMU NAACP was inspired to join because of what the organization stood for and the great leaders that represent the organization.
“My main concern moving forward is hoping there is a structure into FAMU NAACP,” said Gascoigne. “Also, I hope that there are better ways to communicate.”
Nelson says that the State is still looking into it.