Interim President Larry Robinson delivered details of his national anti-hazing plan to the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church congregation Sunday morning.
Incorporating the lessons mentioned in the morning sermon, Robinson compared Florida A&M’s early anti-hazing methods to a Bible verse relayed by the Reverend. R.B. Holmes Jr.
“The first thing we did at FAMU flowing into the message this morning, quick to listen, was to try and get an assessment of how big this problem was,” Robinson said.
He explained the constraints faced in the beginning with trying to assess the problem.
“We were asked not to do an internal investigation due to the investigations being done by FDLE and the Board of Governors,” said Robinson.
This compelled administration to examine hazing on a national level and prompted Robinson and a team of stakeholders at FAMU to look at issue of hazing as a national problem.
“We formed an internal crisis management team that I had the privilege of chairing, starting back in late November early December, working very closely with our Board of Trustees.”
Because of this team, The Anti-hazing Committee came up with definitive methods they believe will eliminate hazing.
“We wound up with what we call an anti-hazing plan that has several components…we did not arrive at this plan without careful, deliberate input from a number of stakeholders, including students, faculty and staff,” said Robinson.
In this plan, Robinson outlined short-term goals of the committee as well as the long term goals it wishes to accomplish.
Robinson examined the way organizations initiated and accepted new members.
“We suspended intake for all organizations until we had a chance this fall to put in place a new membership intake procedure that allowed us to, quote recertify all student organizations, providing official training to students and their advisers with regard to the rules they had to abide by,” said Robinson.
The long-term goal is to look beyond the Marching “100” and specifically at the music program.
“We set forth a new set of policies and procedures for definitively being in the band in the first place, the number of years of service in the band, some new academic standards, and practice hours limitations,” Robinson said.
He hopes these new policies and procedures help shift the focus in the band.
“To ensure our students were, in fact, focused upon being students first and musicians second,” said Robinson.
The Anti-hazing Committee also identified the need for additional personnel to help mov its efforts forward.
The process to hire a anti-hazing specialist who would look broadly across the university and report any findings immediately to the university president is still ongoing.
Based on the special needs of the music program, the committee sees the need to hire a compliance officer, who would ensure the rules and regulations from traveling to anti-hazing would be adhered to.
Robinson said he spoke with other institutions with award-winning bands on how to handle this issue and found they all had the same question.
“Due to the culture of hazing, how deeply it is embedded in our society, what do you replace it with? What will students resort to in the absence of this long term, deeply-embedded tradition?” Robinson asked.
He replied by citing the morning sermon to being the answer.
“You replace with an understanding that they, by virtue of being here, have value. That does not have to be acclaimed by anybody else. They already have an intrinsic value the moment they were born into this earth.”