Florida A&M University’s award-winning student news publication, The FAMUan, is on a short hiatus until Jan. 30, 2013, according to university administration. A former drum major in the ‘Marching 100’ filed a lawsuit, accusing The FAMUan of libel – for inaccurately representing him as being involved in the Robert Champion incident.
Keon Hollis, a drum major in the now probated ‘Marching 100’, filed a claim to the Leon County Circuit Court in Florida Dec. 3, 2012. The original article in The FAMUan noted that Hollis had been suspended, in relation to Robert Champion’s death.
The FAMUan released a statement via its online entity Feb. 14, 2012, clearing Hollis of any connection to the incident.
“On Dec. 2, 2011, Keon Hollis of Atlanta was incorrectly identified on thefamuanonline.com as one of four drum majors for the “Marching 100” band dismissed from Florida A&M University following the hazing death of Drum major Robert Champion.Hollis was not suspended, dismissed, expelled or reprimanded in connection to the hazing of Robert Champion. We deeply regret the error.”
Natalie Johnson, a student news editor of The FAMUan, also tweeted about the hiatus in an attempt to clear up any confusion.
“THE FAMUAN HAS NOT BEEN SUSPENDED! Our publication has been postponed! We are not hazing. All editors are being trained until our 1st issue!”
Dean Ann Wead Kimbrough of the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication ordered a review for all student media in the school of journalism. All student editors will have to reapply for a position. Apparently, some students were not eligible to participate in student media, prior to August 2012.
”We are working to balance studentsrights to a free press through this process while also ensuring that The Famuan has the proper support from the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication as it serves as a training unit for up and coming journalists.” Kimbrough said.
Andrew Skerritt, a J-School advisor, was apparently removed as well, but for unrelated circumstances. Kimbrough told the Student Press Law Center that the advisor’s removal was a personal issue and was just a timing coincidence, that it occurred during these accusations.
Dean Kimbrough also told ABC affiliate, WCTV, in Tallahassee, Fla. that this hiatus will only make things better overall in the school of journalism and graphic communication.
FAMU officials have yet to receive the official complaint from Leon County Circuit Court about these accusations.
The university is currently under investigation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, for failing to meet educational standards, which has put its accreditation in jeopardy.