In the wake of the hazing murder of Robert Champion, a gay student at Florida A & M University, students and community leaders are calling on the university to adopt a strong anti-discrimination/bullying policy. Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith spoke to FAMU President Ammons and legal counsel for the university in advance of the meeting to call for the policy change. The administration agreed to bring the proposal to the board.
During the Thursday FAMU Board of Trustees meeting, student Ciara Taylor took to the microphone to call on the university to take action:
The tragic and senseless death of Robert Champion has resurfaced longstanding concerns about the safety of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students on FAMU's campus. A climate of hostility has grown unchecked for too long. I'm here to ask the board to demonstrate its commitment to diversity, respect and inclusion by adding "sexual orientation and gender identity" to all policies that include enumerated categories such as race, religion, ethnic origin etc… These are long overdue protections that will send a clear message that the safety of all students is paramount and that the university is a place where all are welcome to learn and excel.
WCTV interviewed Ciara following her comments:
Ciara reports that several trustees and staff members indicated support for such a change. A coalition of student, faculty and community organizations have begun working together to ensure the process of enacting essential protections moves forward with the urgency the matter deserves.
"A change in policy has long been a priority of the FAMU LGBT Pride Student Union. It has been great to see the community and the campus stand together. This is an important step for FAMU that is long overdue," said Yolanda Fairell, director of Tallahassee's Inclusive LGBTQA Task Force.
Shani Angela, a local community organizer who works closely with FAMU students agrres this is an opportunity for collaboration.
"The campus and community share responsibility and leadership for building vibrant and inclusive communities. These are important first steps toward creating safety and respect for all students on campus and off campus."