Locked out

Recently 22 Reserve Officers’ Training Core cadets were dismissed from their room and board scholarships for not meeting the academic requirement of a 3.0 grade point average.

When a student is recruited into the ROTC program, all of their expenses are suppose to be taken care of by either ROTC or Florida A&M University.

In past years, the ROTC’s Presidential Scholar Award provided students with tuition and fees including a stipend, while the University gave students a room and board scholarship, in which they had to maintain a 2.0 GPA.

In 2002, FAMU changed the GPA requirement to a 3.0.

On May 14, 2002, a letter was sent out to inform students of the change.

The letter also stated that this requirement would go into effect the following semester.

In the midst of this change, the university had a change of leadership and ran into some financial burdens. They eventually had to cut back on some expenses.

Major Jackson, a recruiter in the program, said that ROTC overlooked their students GPA’ s for a long time. However, in the summer of 2005, FAMU noticed that several students were not meeting the academic requirement in the ROTC program. In August, FAMU made a final decision to dismiss several students from their housing scholarships for not meeting the requirement.

“It was sloppily handled,” said Peqwita Thornton, 22, senior criminal justice student from Atlanta and a member of ROTC.

Thornton said she believes that ROTC does a lot for FAMU but the favor is not returned.

“Students weren’t informed in a timely manner,” she added.

In September, Thornton a member of the ROTC program, filed a complaint to the housing department because the students weren’t given an adequate amount of time to make other arrangements for housing.

Most of the students were forced to stay on campus because they signed a housing agreement that they would not be released from by the University.

In October, Thornton went to Castell Bryant, Interim President, to get some answers.

Thornton said Bryant dismissed it as an ROTC issue. Currently, some ROTC members owe for housing from the fall semester and have holds on their accounts, which prevents them from registering for their spring semester classes.

“This whole situation has put a financial burden on not only the students that were affected but their families also,” Keith Farmer said.

Farmer, a senior, has noticed a decrease in the number of cadets showing up to physical training and other events.

“ROTC is suffering severely,” Farmer said, “several cadets had to pick up jobs in order to stay in school, which makes their lives ten times harder than it was already.”

He said many students chose FAMU’s program because of the room and board deal. Farmer said it is unfair now that the deal has been ripped away from them without proper notice. He said he is certain that if students in the program knew what they know now, they would have chosen another school.

Jackson added that FAMU and ROTC have a great relationship. However, he does agree that students should have been informed sooner.

“Most of the students come from average income families and it is very hard for them to pay for their room and board,” Jackson said.

Jackson does blame ROTC for not enforcing the GPA properly, and assures everyone the academic requirement will be enforced from now on.

FAMU use to offer 68 scholarships, but recently reduced the number to 45 scholarships. FAMU still offers more scholarships than any other school. Jackson is the second top recruiter in the United States for the ROTC.

He explained there are 272 ROTC detachments and only 27 of those offer room and board with their scholarships.

Contact Nefertiti Williams at famuannews@hotmail.com