Saturday, January 05, 2013

Tampa Bay Times editorial omits facts, makes off-the-wall allegations

The latest Tampa Bay Times editorial on FAMU is filled with the same types of distortions that the Times’ opinions staff used to print against the university’s College of Law.

The Times begins a Jan. 5, 2013 editorial by referencing the Florida Board of Governors’ (BOG) preliminary report on the FAMU anti-hazing program. It then goes on to claim that “FAMU officials turned a blind eye to the hazing,” as if that was one of the findings from the BOG investigation.

But of course, the editorial board omitted BOG Inspector General Derry Harper’s statement that “From 2007 to 2011, the FAMU Police Department investigated 17 alleged criminal hazing violations.”

The editorial board knew it could not explain how FAMU could conduct regular criminal investigations into reported hazing at the same time it was somehow turning “a blind eye” to hazing. So the editorial board simply declined to mention FAMU’s 17 criminal probes into hazing allegations at the school.

A recent Associated Press article reported that “Many police investigations into hazing [at FAMU] went nowhere because students stonewalled and refused to cooperate.”

But the Times editorial board would rather have people think that FAMU looked the other way and basically ignored alleged hazing. It wants its readers to believe that there “was a culture of de facto FAMU-sanctioned violence” despite the fact that FAMU tried to get criminal charges filed against students who reportedly engaged in hazing.

The Times’ editorial staff also excluded Harper’s statement that “the allegation that FAMU staff failed to adequately address complaints of hazing by former Director of Bands was unsubstantiated.” If it had included that information, it would have undercut the editorial board’s own claim that FAMU was doing little to stop hazing.

And then there is the half-baked statement that FAMU “repeatedly failed to follow up with law enforcement on at least nine earlier assaults on band members to determine if long-standing rules governing student conduct had been violated.”

The BOG report really says that FAMU police failed to refer nine alleged cases of hazing that they investigated over to the Judicial Affairs Office. That was an inexcusable oversight. But it reflected what Harper called a problematic “communications protocol” rather than a university-wide indifference to hazing, as the Times editorial board seems to want people to believe.

It’s also funny that the Times editorial board quotes Chancellor Frank Brogan’s criticism against FAMU’s anti-hazing program but says nothing about Florida Auditor General David Martin's criticism against the BOG's lack of leadership in the fight against hazing. Martin said the BOG put students at risk by failing to adopt a detailed regulation that sets specific minimum standards for anti-hazing programs at public universities.

This is much like the slanted ink the Times editorial board (formerly the St. Petersburg Times) used to attack the FAMU College of Law.

The Times editorial board tried to get its readers to believe that FAMU was nowhere close to satisfying the bar passage rate that the American Bar Association (ABA) required for accreditation. In a May 2008 editorial, the board said that FAMU’s law students “tend to do abysmally on the bar exam.” The statement ignored the fact that the data on file with the ABA and the Florida Board of Bar Examiners showed that the overwhelming majority of FAMU law students were passing the bar exam.

But this is the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. Who really expects it to print anything other than misleading information about FAMU?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You should write a letter to the editor