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FAMU Officials Failed to Follow Hazing Laws [REPORTS ATTACHED]

By: Associated Press; News Service of Florida; Mike Springer; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Associated Press; News Service of Florida; Mike Springer; Lanetra Bennett Email

Tallahassee, FL - Derry Harper, the Florida Board of Governors' Inspector General, gave an overview of his investigation during the BOG meeting in Gainesville Wednesday.

FAMU Board of Trustees Chairman Solomon Badger and Interim President Larry Robinson gave a few brief remarks on the strides FAMU is taking.

Badger remarked that in a System like ours, "we are only as strong as our weakest link," and as such it is appropriate to work together to ensure FAMU addresses the issues outlined in the report.

The Board expressed its support of Badger and Robinson's cooperation.

The presentation was for information only -- no formal decisions were made. An official response from FAMU to the BOG report is due by Jan. 23.

The full report can be found at http://flbog.edu/pressroom/meeting_items.php?id=175&agenda=661&type=Upcoming


Associated Press Release

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The board that governs Florida's universities is discussing a blistering report that contends Florida A&M University officials failed to follow state laws and regulations on hazing in the years leading up to the death of a FAMU drum major.

The Florida Board of Governors is meeting in Gainesville Wednesday to discuss the report issued by its inspector general.

Drum major Robert Champion died in November 2011 after he was hazed on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.

FAMU officials say they have already made sweeping changes in the aftermath of Champion's death, which also resulted in the retirement of the band director and the resignation of the university president.


Tallahassee, FL -December 28, 2012

Weeks after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges placed FAMU on probation because of academic concerns, the University is taking another hit.

A year long investigation by the Florida Board of Governors has led to a new report saying the University fell short in its ability to handle and respond to hazing.

The report cites several shortfalls at the University, including the lack of a database to track hazing incidents, not establishing communications protocol between the University's Police Department and its Office of Judicial Affairs and doing little to verify the eligibility of the University's band members.

The Florida Board of Governor's launched its investigation, which led to this report, following the death of Drum Major Robert Champion. Champion was allegedly killed during a hazing incident last year in Orlando.

But despite the deficiencies listed in the report, FAMU says it is working to prevent hazing

Over the last 12 months, FAMU has made several changes to the ways it handles hazing including requiring freshmen to take an anti-hazing class and establishing a website where students can report incidents of hazing, changes some say are working.

"It's giving the students an eye opener to the consequences that can happen if this type of incident happens again," says Andre Lampkin, whose friends attend FAMU.

FAMU's Interim President, Doctor Larry Robinson responded to the report saying the University is working to address the problem of hazing. He says the University will take a closer look at the report to see if any additional changes are necessary

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News Service of Florida

By BRANDON LARRABEE
THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Posting or forwarding this material without permission is prohibited. Contact news@newsserviceflorida.com.

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, December 28, 2012..........Safeguards against hazing at Florida A&M University were not strong enough in the lead-up to the 2011 death of drum major Robert Champion, but inflammatory accusations that university leaders recklessly ignored calls for action by the former band director can't be proven, according to a new report by a Florida Board of Governors watchdog.

The report, released Friday, details the missteps of FAMU officials in responding to multiple hazing allegations, from faulty compliance with university policies that could have helped prevent the tragedy to a lack of follow-up on some reports of hazing.

And it confirms that FAMU administrators met about hazing three days before Champion's Nov. 19 death. Champion died after he was allegedly brutally beaten on a bus as part of a hazing ritual followed by members of the university's iconic "Marching 100" band.

The report said the accounts of officials at the meeting differed on whether they discussed suspending the band and who proposed or supported the idea.

The band has since been suspended, and former FAMU President James Ammons resigned after months of questions about Champion's death and other investigations swirling around the school.

Champion died on a band charter bus in November after the renowned marching band performed at the annual Florida Classic football game in Orlando. Eleven individuals were charged with felony hazing in the incident, which drew nationwide media coverage.

"(We) conclude that the university was unable to demonstrate the existence of adequate institutional controls to ensure the effective implementation of the hazing and Student Code of Conduct regulations, and Band Directive, which formed the basis of the anti-hazing program," said the report from the Board of Governors' Office of the Inspector General.

The report brushes away a complaint from the former director of bands, Julian White, that he tried unsuccessfully to call attention to the band's issues with hazing. It says White contradicted himself on whether he recommended suspending the band for the Florida Classic during the Nov. 16 meeting.

"Because of the conflicting testimony of the participants at the November 16, 2011 meeting, including Dr. White?s, there is insufficient evidence to support his assertion of reckless indifference or disregard," the report says.

The inspector general's report recommends FAMU tighten up its record-keeping on hazing allegations, work more closely with the Tallahassee Police Department on hazing investigations and strengthen the university's Office of Judicial Affairs.

FAMU has 15 days to respond to the report.

In a memo to the Board of Governors accompanying the report, Chancellor Frank Brogan said he would recommend that high-ranking officials with the State University System work with interim President Larry Robinson and follow FAMU's progress in trying to end hazing and other issues on campus.

"I have pledged to work closely with Dr. Robinson and his team to ensure they have our full support -- not only in addressing the issues detailed in this report and others, but in making sure FAMU fosters a culture that does not tolerate the lack of control that led to its recent problems," Brogan wrote.


Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The findings from a year-long investigation show that Florida A&M University officials failed to follow state laws and regulations regarding hazing.

A 32-page report released Friday concludes that the school lacked internal controls to prevent or detect hazing.

The Florida Board of Governors -- which oversees the state university system -- ordered the investigation following the hazing death of FAMU band drum major Robert Champion 13 months ago. Champion died after he was beaten by fellow members of FAMU's famed Marching 100 band during a hazing ritual aboard a charter bus.

The report comes the same month that a regional accrediting organization placed the school on probation for 12 months. The university has one year to prove it is turning itself around or could have its accreditation revoked.


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