BLACK VOICES
12/16/2011 04:52 pm ET | Updated Dec 17, 2011

FAMU Students Offended By Gov. Rick Scott's Response At Protest

As the fallout from the FAMU hazing scandal continues, the attention has shifted from the campus to the state capitol.

On Dec. 15, Florida Governor Rick Scott said he wanted university president Dr. James H. Ammons suspended, amid multiple investigations into the causes of the death of Robert Champion. Students responded by staging a protest at the Governor's Mansion that evening, and while they managed to get the governor's attention, they weren't too happy about what he had to say.

Scott opened his speech nostalgically, mentioning that he grew up in public housing, leading Ciara Taylor, a FAMU student to yell out "We're not poor," the Miami Herald reports.

Students said they were offended by his remarks, calling it a failed attempt to find common ground with his audience.

"I guess he was trying to make some type of relation to our student body, as if we had lived in public housing," Marissa West told the Miami Herald.

He continued his message, explaining the reasons why he felt it would be appropriate for the president to step aside, including Champion's death, the recent announcement of fraud discovery and a final reason he could not discuss publicly.

The governor caused similar offense when he told to same story at a luncheon with black legislators in Feb. 2011, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

"I grew up probably in the same situation as you guys," he told the group during the event. "I started school in public housing. My dad had a sixth-grade education."

At the time, the legislators were equally offended.

"He assumed that everyone [in the room] was poor and that can only be because you're black," Rep. Betty Reed (D-Tampa) told the news outlet.

Since Champion's death in November, band director, Julian White, has been placed on administrative leave and three students have been charged with battery and hazing another student.

Governor Scott stood by his call for Ammons suspended, although he had already been publicly reprimanded by the school's Board of Trustees. Students said they think the governor should leave these decision in the school's hands.

"I would definitely say that he's overstepped his bounds," West told the Miami Herald. "Our Board of Trustees is more than capable of making this decision."

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story reported Florida A&M University President as John Ammons instead of Dr. James H. Ammons.

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