stephen_robinson_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE — A committee created by Florida A&M University to look into hazing problems at the state’s leading predominantly black school will ask the Board of Trustees to designate it a fact-finding, rather than an advisory body that provides recommendations. 

The panel made the decision at its first meeting on March 16, according to a FAMU statement. It would mean the committee would be allowed to meet privately.

Stephen Craig Robinson, chairman of the Anti-Hazing Committee and a former U.S. District Court Judge, said it is important for members to be able to speak with one another “spontaneously and on a continuous basis” to complete their work “in as expeditious a fashion as possible.”

Should the trustees approve the request, the panel will work outside of the state’s open meetings and public records law.

The committee will examine short-term and long-term strategies for eradicating hazing at FAMU and will present written and oral reports to the trustees.

FAMU created the panel after the death of drum major Robert Champion during what law enforcement authorities have said was a hazing on a band bus in Orlando last November.

As outlined by Robinson, the committee will look at the following questions:

• Hazing at other universities and how has it been handled.

• Getting students to resist hazing and what has worked.

•  What other Universities are doing to prevent hazing in their marching bands that can be applied to FAMU’s Marching 100 and its activities.

The university suspended its marching band following Champion’s death.

“The FAMU Anti-Hazing Committee will work in unison with the ongoing efforts of the FAMU community to address the issue of hazing,” the FAMU statement said. “It is part of the university’s comprehensive plan to end hazing at FAMU and was approved by the Board of Trustees on January 2.”

The committee members are Robinson, who is currently partner at the law firm  Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Na’im Akbar, clinical psychologist and former president of the National Association of Black Psychologists; Elizabeth Allan, a professor at the University of Maine and co-director of The National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention.

Also, Michael V. Bowie, executive director of the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers and  former national president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council; David Brewer, a former U.S. Navy vice admiral and superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District; Mary Madden, a professor at the university of Maine and co-director of  The National Collaborative for Hazing Research and Prevention; and David Starnes, band director and a professor of Music at Western Carolina University.

Photo: Stephen Robinson