Residents speak out on freeze

The financial issues and a new plan by FAMU Interim President Castell V. Bryant has stirred remarks throughout the capital city.

Last week, Bryant issued a moratorium freezing all school spending. The exceptions to the plan include previous construction contracts, medical supplies, insurance and postal services. All of these areas can receive funding only if approved directly by Bryant.

According to Bryant, the goal of this plan is to not end the fiscal year in debt.

The halt on spending at FAMU has received mixed reactions throughout the community. State Sen. Al Lawson, D-Tallahassee, who opposes Bryant’s plan, called it micromanaging.

“I don’t agree with what the president is doing in terms of curtailing most of the activity because you interrupt the flow of the University,” Lawson said. “I think it’s inappropriate because I have never seen this done before.”

Laswson said he believes many of the University’s financial problems occurred because of the changeover between previous administrations.

“Nothing has been found illegal at FAMU,” Lawson said.

“The financial problems arrived from the faculty changeover that came when Fred Gainous replaced Frederick Humphries as president.”

Students also have mixed reactions to the plan to halt spending.

Jarvis Massey, an engineering student from Miami, said he believes it may be appropriate.

“I believe it may be a good idea because we need to get the financial problems at FAMU solved,” Massey said. “FAMU is a great school and I hope the administration gets FAMU back to where it needs to be.”

Eunika Russell, an education student from Fort Myers, is undecided.

“I believe FAMU needs to stop spending only in some areas. I think such a drastic halt on spending may hurt programs such as the athletic department but it may be a step in the right direction,” Russell said.

Lawson, a FAMU alumnus, said he believes the state should bail FAMU out so the school can recover.

“Our goal and the University’s goal should be to provide stability to the students. It doesn’t do anybody any good for FAMU to suffer,” Lawson said.

The senator said that the state wants and needs all its universities to do well.

“Any financial problem affects students and students are a very big issue. We want to do everything to make sure those students have the stability to matriculate through the system,” Lawson said.

Governor Jeb Bush disagreed with the proposed bail out.

“It’s appropriate for us to obviously get involved because FAMU is a great university. It’s a great university and we need to protect its integrity,” Bush said.

He said he believes that the government should assist FAMU, but a bail out would not be the way to go.

“We’re in the reform business,” Bush said. “We’re in the fixing business. And we’re in the protecting the students business. But we’re not in the bail out business.”

Bush said he believes that with the Legislature’s assistance, FAMU can solve its own financial problems.

Contact Will Ayers at