By Lynn Hatter – FPR, Matthew Peddie – WMFE & Margie Menzel – WLRN
Florida A&M University’s President has resigned in the wake of the hazing death of a band drum major. Lynn Hatter reports President James Ammons’ decision to step aside is the latest in the fallout from stemming from the hazing case.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for Robert Champion’s family says their goal in suing Florida A & M university is to try and eradicate hazing.
Champion was allegedly hazed to death aboard a bus chartered for FAMU’s marching 100 band, after the Florida Classic football game in Orlando last fall.
His family filed a lawsuit against FAMU board of trustees in the Orange County circuit court Wednesday. The bus company and the driver of the bus on the night of the incident are also being sued.
The lawsuit alleges the board of trustees should have known the band engaged in conduct that violated university policies as well as state and federal laws.
Speaking outside the court, Attorney Christopher Chestnut said the hazing culture goes beyond FAMU.
“It’s not just a FAMU problem, it’s not just a Florida problem, it’s an American problem. And so the interest of this family isn’t money. It’s not how much money we can get, it’s how many lives we can effect, how much change we can bring, and how many students we can save from hazing in the future.”
The lawsuit came on the same day FAMU president James Ammons resigned.
The Florida A&M University board of trustees will meet Monday to discuss the resignation of President James Ammons.
Last month the school’s board of trustees gave Ammons a vote of no-confidence.
On Wednesday, after Ammons’ announcement, FAMU Trustee Rufus Montgomery exploded at a board meeting previously scheduled to talk about budget items. He said the board must act quickly on many problems besides hazing.
“For the last seven months we’ve danced around it week after week, problem after problem. This thing has only gotten worse. We’ve got the FAMU students on trial this fall in the Champion case, we have no band this fall, we’ve got a drop in enrollment coming, I read the other day the Florida Senate’s investigating the school. I mean, come on, you all.”
Ammons said he would stay on until October 11 and continue as a tenured professor after that.