MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The hazing death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion last November continues to trigger a series of concerns and questions.
On Thursday, university President James Ammons received a no-confidence vote from the school’s board of trustees. The board voted 8 to 4 to approve the no confidence measure.
Ammons however, does not plan to quit and is determined to fix the problems.
“This is very serious for the future of this university. You have my commitment to fix them and get this job done,” Ammons said after the vote.
Ammons is confident that he will succeed. He told trustees during an all-day retreat On Wednesday that the deeply ingrained hazing culture at the school has proven to be the most “challenging issue” of his career.
“I am deeply concerned about the culture at Florida A&M University. I am deeply concerned about the image of our university. I know we have ahead of us a big task of restoring the trust and confidence in this university to provide a safe environment for our students,” Ammons said.
Among the plans drawn up by Ammons and his staff are new hard-hitting eligibility and academic requirements for members of the band modeled on NCAA requirements for athletes. Ammons is aware that the new four-year eligibility requirement and 2.5 grade point average requirement placed on incoming students will likely make the renowned band much smaller than past years.
Ammons has also proposed hiring a compliance officer for the music department and a special assistant dealing with hazing. He also plants to beef up the office that handles student conduct and can recommend suspensions or expulsions.
FAMU would also no longer allow students from other schools in Tallahassee to perform with The Marching 100. It was revealed last month that 101 members on the 457-member band roster were not FAMU students. FAMU briefly did bar students from other schools but Ammons himself agreed to lift that restriction when he became president in 2007.
“It didn’t work the way it was laid out to work,” said Ammons, acknowledging that there was “abuses” in those who were allowed to join the band.
But the band is just one of the problems Ammons and his staff will have to address.
They will have to implement a plan to restore the universities image, devise a major fundraising campaign to grapple the huge financial deficit and come up with a plan to fill football stands this fall despite the absence of the Marching 100 which have been suspended for this year.
FAMU has yet to come up with alternative entertainment for home football games. The annual spar with Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando will still take place, but they are reviewing options to the traditional battle of the bands that have been the centerpiece of the contest.