Florida A&M University is looking to the future after nine months of negative attention stemming from the hazing death of school band Drum Major Robert Champion. There are also fewer students on campus this year as a result of declining enrollment, but school officials and students are cautiously optimistic that FAMU has turned a corner.
FAMU’s interim president Larry Robinson says he knows the past year has been rough for the school, and he urged students to consider how their actions can be perceived by others.
“Students, you must be mindful of how your actions, or in some case, inaction, impact not only you, but your university, it’s image and it’s legacy,” Robinson said during his State of the University Address.
The school has received more than 50 applications so far to fill the newly-created positions of hazing czar and band compliance officer. Robinson also unveiled the website, StopHazingAtFAMU.com, designed to educate students about the consequences of hazing.
And students say they believe the changes that have been made are for the better.
"The mood on campus is start to pick up a little bit, because as you can tell, enrollment is slightly down," said Jamal Rose, a Political Science major who will graduate from FAMU this fall. "But what I will say the energy is there as far as events, but right now we don’t have the same freedoms that we’d normally be able to do without restrictions.”
FAMU has put new rules in place for campus organizations. They must now complete anti-hazing trainings, and there are new GPA and community service requirements.
University officials say they expect a loss of more than a thousand students, which could result in a corresponding loss of a few million dollars in state funding.