The past week has brought a couple of new developments to the on-going saga at Florida A&M. The finger-pointing and assigning-of-blame, is heading into the next phase.
Late last week, the Florida A&M Board of Trustees passed a resolution of censure against President James Ammons based largely on his handling of the hazing death of Robert Champion. President Ammons responded by vowing to stay in his position to work toward resolving the issues. This is unusual, as most censures of this nature would lead to a resignation or removal from office. He was told by his bosses that they don’t trust his abilities to lead. The Tampa Bay Times also published an article outlining additional concerns about President Ammons, both at FAMU and in his previous position at North Carolina Central University.
Today’s Orlando Sentinel has an article outlining a meeting between former Band Director Julien White, the Dean of Students, the Provost, and the Chief of the FAMU Police Department, that took place prior to the band’s trip to Orlando for the Florida Classic. The article states that this group of Senior administrators recommended that the band be suspended and not make the trip due to hazing concerns. However, no one at the meeting felt the they had the authority to make that decision.
“The consensus of everyone in that meeting was that no one in the room had the power to make that decision,” said Brooke Hobbs, spokeswoman for White’s attorney, Chuck Hobbs.
If not them, who would have that power? The article is not clear about whether President Ammons was informed of this recommendation.
It is possible that James Ammons is the right choice for a long-term leader at FAMU, but it is becoming clear that he is too intertwined into this issue to lead the University through the investigation and resolution. If he is not going to resign, a leave of absence from his presidency would probably be a very good idea right now.