Tuesday afternoon, info-seeking students and organizations filled Al Lawson to attend the campus–wide safety forum only to learn that there will be no new membership intake this or next (summer) semester.
"Membership intake will be temporarily suspended for all student clubs, organizations, fraternities and sororitites until the fall semester of 2012. The suspension will give us the oportunity to receive the reccomendation from the anti-hazing committee and give student affairs an opportunity to review the intake process of every student organization on campus," Ammons stated.
Ammons announced to hundreds of students and staff members, "it is your responsibility to make FAMU a safer place through respect and dignity. It is time to take a stand for the greater good."
The forum’s theme was "Respect and Dignity" in hopes to urge students to use the “golden rule” in regards to hazing and reporting hazing incidents. A panel of officials including Carrie Gavin, Director of Equal Opportunity Programs; Calvin Ross, Chief of Police of FAMU Department of Public Safety; and Henry Kirby, Associate Vice-President of Student Life & Dean of Student Affairs. Panelists answered questions from students concerning on-campus safety. Questions were emailed prior to the event and addressed by the appropriate panel member.
"Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes. Students may not be aware that they can report anonymously either to the counseling services or to student health services." Chief Ross answered when asked about sexual assault crimes on campus.
Faculty and staff members were also encouraged to submit questions.
"Respect and dignity have a lot to do with having a safe college experience," said Benjamin Davis, the CBS Harold Dow visiting professor.
In an effort to increase student attendance FAMU canceled classes during the forum's scheduled time.
Anthony Finley, fourth year physical therapy student from Brooklyn, NY said “the forum was informative and very necessary."
During his closing remarks, Ammons reiterated the importance of making the campus safer and expressed his serious concern regarding the upcoming membership intake for all campus organizations.
Ammons also announced, "we have decided to cancel the 2012 summer band camp. We did this for several reasons. As you know the band is currently on suspension. The Board of Trustees have agreed to conveign a blue ribbon anti-hazing committee that will review how we best govern band activities."
FAMU Department of Law Enforcement is still investigating the cause of death of one of the Marching 100's drum majors, Robert Champion. The incident occurred at the Orlando Florida Classic in November. Champion's autopsy concluded that hazing was a factor. While FAMU students and staff continue to mourn the passing of the 26 year-old, university officials work toward ridding the school of hazing while preventing similar incidents from occurring .
The president affirmed that he has made a point to have numerous conversations with various student organizations, students and advisers to gain perspective some about this important process.
A fourth year english student from Miami, Rey Louis says, "it will only temporarily solve our problems by punishing organizations and not letting them accept new members, but we will return in the fall." Louis is a member of the Student National Alumni Association and FACES Modeling Troupe, Inc.
All organizations will undergo a review process that will monitor their intake process during the suspension this semester. Ammons informed academic-based organizations that they may submit an exemption form by Feb. 17th.