In yet another sign of the fierce impact of violent incidents at Florida A&M University, the school’s board of trustees announced that it is establishing an outside committee of experts to help develop solutions to hazing, which caused the death of a student band member last fall.
James H. Ammons, Florida A&M’s president, said that the committee will begin its work immediately. Ammons also announced that the school has established an anti-hazing research initiative, for which the school’s faculty can compete for two $25,000 grants.
The university, a public institution in Tallahassee, has been dealing with a firestorm of controversy as a result of the hazing-related death of Robert Champion, the drum major on the school’s marching band who died as a result of being hazed. Also, in unrelated incidents, four members of the university’s renowned Marching 100 band were arrested on hazing-related charges.
The anti-hazing committee consists of seven members with diverse professional backgrounds. The committee will be chaired by Stephen Craig Robinson, a former federal judge, former United States attorney and former attorney for the FBI.
The committee also includes Na'im Akbar, a Tallahassee-based clinical psychologist who specializes in Afrocentric psychology, Elizabeth J. Allan, a higher education professor at the University of Maine who has researched hazing for 20 years, and Michael V. Bowie, executive director of the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers, which awards scholarships to college students intending to become public school teachers.
The other members are David Brewer, a former superintendent of the Los Angeles school system and a retired Navy admiral, Mary Madden, a University of Maine professor and hazing researcher who co-directs the National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention with Allan, and David Starnes, band director and music professor at Western Carolina University.
FAMU trustee Belinda Reed Shannon, who helped select the committee members, said they will work largely through conference calls and the Internet and will continue “as long as is necessary.” She said she expects an initial set of recommendations in about two months.
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