At Florida Memorial University, surviving assaults is part of the curriculum

A turtle suns itself on a rock along the edge of a dark and placid comma-shaped lagoon that marks the center of campus. Casually dressed students carrying schoolbooks saunter across manicured lawns or slouch at patio tables outside the modest student activity center. A pleasant breeze rattles leaf-stocked branches on the sort of Tuesday afternoon that makes a student grateful to spend November in Miami Gardens.

Florida Memorial University's young director of student affairs, Joyce Forchion, leads a ripped-from-a-pamphlet campus tour. She heralds the brand-new glass-walled performing arts center and the aviation building, topped with a sawed-off control tower, which add touches of modernity to the university's low-slung, stuck-in-the-'60s architectural motif. Waves and smiles greet Forchion everywhere. She credits her casual clothes. "When I'm not suited up," she says, "the students think I'm one of them."

But a less official tour given the same evening underscores that this 1,800-student Ivy League-on-a-budget is not all harmony in education. A student named Robert — who doesn't want his full name used for fear of backlash from the faculty — tools his Toyota Camry in semicircles around campus and points out past crime scenes. "That's where the kid was thrown into the lagoon," he says nonchalantly as he drives. "The student center's where the riot went down... There was a shooting at that bookstore."

Rule #8: When being beaten by security guards or a riot squad, curl into a fetal position to protect your internal organs. Be sure to cover your nose, eyes, and mouth to prevent any inhalation of pepper spray.
Joel Castillo
Rule #8: When being beaten by security guards or a riot squad, curl into a fetal position to protect your internal organs. Be sure to cover your nose, eyes, and mouth to prevent any inhalation of pepper spray.
Rule #32: Use caution when offering money for grade tampering. Always conduct business in a public area that is free of security cameras. Remember to delete evidence of transactions. This includes purging email cache.
Joel Castillo
Rule #32: Use caution when offering money for grade tampering. Always conduct business in a public area that is free of security cameras. Remember to delete evidence of transactions. This includes purging email cache.

This is not Robert's vivid imagination at work. An encyclopedia-thick stack of police reports concerning incidents on campus reveals that in recent years, a wave of violence and theft has hit Florida Memorial University, one of the nation's most historically black institutions of higher learning.

The crimes committed here are frequent — about a hundred a year, almost four times the rate of a neighboring university — and serious: Since 2007, there have been shootings, carjackings, dozens of robberies, assaults, home invasions, and burglaries. Two days in November 2008 saw a violent mob descend on a family's vehicle and leave a 17-year-old boy wounded by gunshot one night, and four masked gunmen storm a dorm room during a laptop heist the next. Pistol-wielding carjackers have carved a niche out of preying on FMU students driving parent-bought vehicles. One coed had her teeth stomped out by an intruder from Opa-locka. This is not the stuff of Animal House.

As Ronald Rodman, an attorney representing the aforementioned mob-attacked family, puts it: "They've allowed the campus to be overrun by an environment of lawlessness and anarchy."

Only a few students agreed to speak on the record about their fear of violence on and around campus. "It will do [us] no good to badmouth," one student said of the institution that will print their diplomas. And even as their alma mater has struggled to pay its bills and was rocked in 2002 by the exposure of a grade-fixing scheme that implicated more than 100 students, it's not all scandal at FMU. The school is among the nation's leaders in producing African-American teachers and in 2008 graduated the youngest and the first black pilot to fly solo around the world.

Despite at least two recent lawsuits stemming from violence on campus, FMU administrators kept its safety problems from the public eye until this past October. That's when a video revealed the school's students have not only criminals to fear, but also the security guards charged with protecting the campus.

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Film 101: Capturing the Image

"Is security beating up somebody?" one female student amid an agitated crowd demands as a nervous-looking guard, blue-uniformed and with sunglasses perched on the bill of his cap, stands sentry in front of a marker-scrawled bathroom door. Then a guard inside opens the door just a sliver, allowing a student-held camera to capture an obstructed glimpse of the tableau of violence inside: a nightstick suspended in the air, a wildly thrown fist, and then a flurry of motion as the door is wedged shut.

FMU junior Jeffrey Y. Martin filmed the mayhem just after 8 p.m. Monday, October 19. He pulled out his camera phone after he watched four security guards barricade themselves in the student activity center bathroom with 19-year-old junior Emory Mitchell, he says, and caught glimpses of them "banging him against the wall" and "applying a lot of pressure to his neck" using a nightstick. Unfortunately for the guards, the women's basketball team was putting on a talent show in the same building, and this real-life drama drew nearly the entire audience to the bathroom entrance.

The most remarkable segment of the video comes when a male student, at the urging of the crowd, kicks the door in, sending an officer scurrying to put the kid in a headlock. That's when a doughy guard with a slightly shell-shocked expression — he was later identified as 27-year-old Ronnie Finley — pulls his gun while muttering, "Back up!" He holds the firearm sideways, as if he's seen too many gangster flicks, and waves it at the crowd of unarmed students — who laugh at him. Speculates student Nyteria Smith, who was in the crowd: "I just think he forgot where he was."

Eventually, the film shows a handcuffed and disheveled Mitchell, a solidly built kid with a handsome, dog-like face and designs shaved into his hair, being led from the bathroom. He jaws at his escort of six guards. "All y'all should get arrested!" a male voice from the crowd yells at the officers. "All y'all going down!"

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50 comments
MasonicTruth
MasonicTruth

My gosh..."Organized Cause Stalkers" in the flesh. The security guards at FMU have become criminals, and "Organized Mobbers". They remind me of the same scum at the University of Delaware. Bored U.D.scumbags just like FMU, that manufacture crime because they have nothing better to do but sit around and enage in bullying, and mobbing others. Man, I can not imagine trying to study in that type of eviroment. My fear would be too great with those "organized cause stalkers" running around FMU. I would place five locks on my dorm door. They should fire all those security guard "Rent-A-Slops".

Terrycart
Terrycart

Is this kind of prewarning sign or just exercise something?

Cube11173
Cube11173

No way, blacks are more violent than any other people? And are more prone to harming there own kind? GTFO !

disqusdik
disqusdik

This would be news if everyone here treated each other with dignity and respect. The law of the jungle is what one would expect here and that's exactly what we've got.

Andrew Koller
Andrew Koller

Historically black university. The writer waited until the end of the 4th paragraph to reveal this. Even he knows no one would care or would be shocked had he revealed this in the title or the first sentence of the 1st paragraph.

blight14
blight14

I shocked...........no, really...............I mean, what are the odds........?????

blight14
blight14

'Higher education' seems to be an oxymoron..................

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Jaded2011
Jaded2011

Wait, you mean there is a higher crime rate in areas that have a black majority? G.T.F.Outta here...

Security License Florida
Security License Florida

Yeah Florida Memorial has a shady reputation here. I know one of the security guards that works there and he said that he had seen more in 4 years Florida Memorial than in 12 years of truck driving... go figure...

CarlM
CarlM

wow talk about a rough school

Tracey
Tracey

Wow Rausky,I'm glad to see that you know ALL African Americans to be able to affirm that all African Americans hate Cubans! Your statement is as stupid as yourself, and is one of the reasons that this city is so divided. Do yourself a favor, keep your mouth shut when you don't have anything intelligent to say. I am African American and both of my sons have Cuban godfathers. I'm sure I chose them because I hate Cubans. Idiota!

timm1955
timm1955

the solution for this trainwreck of a school is to hire 2 or 3 white people, and also a couple of white guards. then they can blame white people for their problems. and that moron fighting with the guards and then filing a lawsuit against them: rodney king, rodney king!!! gimmee some moneyyy! one of the posters on here talked about "why not mention all the crime on white schools" there is NO majority white school in america as bad as this. period. 96% of the students getting financial aid. the school has been sued of 60 times for not paying suppliers. what a trainwreck. instead of suing the school for not protecting you, why not sue the criminal, or better yet, the criminal's parents for raising a thug. and the riot after obama won. that tells a lot. another poster recommmended closing the school and sending the students to other schools. NO THANK YOU. goes to show. you can take the animal out of africa, but you can't take africa out of the animal. just unbelievable. 38% graduation graduation rate. how predictable.

Darren Chaker
Darren Chaker

I alsmost agree. Crime isn't that bad, at least on a consistent basis at the school, but when compared to other schools it levels off. No doubt thought, no person on the grounds of a place of higher education wants to feel they may get victimized while just merely trying to learn. Darren Chaker

UrbanSafetySolutions
UrbanSafetySolutions

Scary that students must endure such a hostile environment when they are there to learn and become the future leaders of the nation. Students and faculty must protect themselves the best they can and always be aware of their surroundings. Visit http://www.urbansafetysolution...

Cindy1000
Cindy1000

Good Grief, After reading leo's post, I'd say they should shut the place down for failure to educate, forget the violence! Are these the kind of people we want teaching our children? Is their curriculum even up to standards? Doesn't sound like it. BTW leo - Try taking a course in journalism. The only thing you have in your hand is your .......

Cindy1000
Cindy1000

Sounds like the best thing to do is shut the zoo down. Spread the students out and place them in other college's. The trouble makers will be weeded out soon enough as their behavior will stand out and they learn that they just plain "aint cool" and aren't going any where.

Jonte Myers
Jonte Myers

Please not that the Jay making the comments here is not Jonte Myers....This issue here is not an easy one and it is a serious one..

Leo
Leo

I currently attend Florida Memorial University and this article is outrages and a lie. Things happen for a reason and you go places Mr. Garcia and see things you want to see them and not they way you should see them. There are always 3 sides to a story and in this case Mr. Garcia, your side, the Universities side and the TRUTH! I know for a fact that the truth is not presented here. All you try to do Mr. Garcia is downgrade African American's and their institutions rather college or religious so you could make your money. I promise if you do not stop, I promise to file a Class Action Lawsuit Against You Mr. Garcia and the Miami New Times for Defamation of Character. Play with it Mr. Garcia, I got you right in my hand.

Carlos
Carlos

Karen, what "white" schools??? Last time I checked, the other schools in the miami area are OPEN TO ANYONE who meets the requirements.

Gus Garcia-Roberts
Gus Garcia-Roberts

Karen, if you would like to point me to any specific local college or university with similar documented problems with crime, I'd gladly look into it.

In the meantime, I'm going to trust the opinions of several students and faculty members who tell me they're glad this article was published.

gus.garcia-roberts@miaminewtimes.com

karen
karen

Did you give white colleges with equal amount of crimes on their campuses the same attention that you seem to be reporting about Florida Memorial University? What's your solution?

juan
juan

If you gays want to move to Miami University or FIU, we cann help you find an apartment in South Florida area.Miami homes and apartments for sale and for rent

Hannah
Hannah

Also, spelling is generally a requirEd component of Language Arts.

Hannah
Hannah

Latisha, your perception is supreme. Jay, you are the biggest part of the problem; take a look at yourself and what you said. Oh, and Jay, stay the hell away from schools for all of our sakes.

miamijules
miamijules

I BET #9 KNOWS #6 TOO BAD BOTH ARE SO IGNORANT

Saniya
Saniya

I'm an alum of FMC and I must say that I'm not surprised. As a student there, one of my sorority sisters was murdered at her job by a fellow student off campus and it was not acknowlwedged by administration at all. In fact, the yearbook staff was brought into one of the administrative offices because they didn't want her death memorialized in the yearbook. After graduation, I attended UM for grad school and there are problems on campus there as well. The difference is, UM goes out of its way to establish communications with students regarding safety and the guards are a constant visible presence on campus. FMU administrators may want to visit other institutions of higher learning to see just what measures are in place to protect students.

WT
WT

JQ, let Alummni Affairs know how you feel. I did. Let them know that the university has to get rid of the bad elements that are ruining it.

Jerome Newell
Jerome Newell

As an alumni of Florida Memorial University, I must first say that I love my alma mater with all of its Orange, White, and Blue. However, I can't help but consider how this continuous negative publicity is going to affect my employability and the opportunities available to me, as our student body is not solely comprised of violent glock toting thieves. Our student body is primarily comprised of students who work hard are passionately pursuing their education, and it is my sincere hope that this knowledge is not lost amongst the negative mantra that continues to pervade my institution of higher learning.

JQ Newell

star
star

Jay, faculty has no power in this matter. Assign blame where it belongs: Administration. They are in charge and chose to do NOTHING about crime on campus.

Ty
Ty

Jay, are you sure you are not part of the problem

Jay
Jay

Well as an actual student of Flo Mo allow me to say shut the fuck up, Karen, because our problems don't need whitewashing. The faculty won't do anything to make our campus safer, and that's a serious problem that needs coverage.

karen
karen

No, I am not employed by the University, and no, I am not Black. I am a concerned citizen who knows about this community and respect the work of all of our institutions. I would say to those who really feel they have reasons to be afraid to consider another institution. There is no way that you can get the most out of the education offered at the University if you are in fear. Also, if you feel that the university is not up to your standards, that too would be a good reason to leave. I hope you find what you need at whatever institution you choose. I am a white female who attended a majority white institution. There was marajuana, cocaine, heroine and LSD used on a regular basis by students, there was theft, vandalism, homocide and rape on my campus during my four years. It just never got such media attention.

J.Becker
J.Becker

#6. Have you taken youe basic Language Arts requirments?What a shame that this Local University has this problem.

latisha
latisha

#4 this ain't bout race you idiotwere gonna die here

sani
sani

karen obviously works for the university and is trying to keep her job...did they write that for you????administrators are taking this place to the crappertime to clean the house

Karen
Karen

I am very familiar with Florida Memorial University and I know that there are wonderful things that go on on that campus, yet I never see news coverage. Is there a conspiracy to destroy the only Black university in South Florida? It doesn't matter which media reports a story, it is always negative. Please share with the community the fine education that Florida Memorial is providing to low income, first generation college students. Tell the story of how this institution nurture the social and career development of of teacher and other professionals. This institution has literally transformed the lives of so many young people from this community, and its a shame that they get known for negative

forreal
forreal

it's not just students, faculty and staff are scared toothe trustees better fix this messfire most of the administratorsget rid of the delinquents

jj
jj

i went to school there and then left to attend the university of miami. that place is unreal.

Rausky79
Rausky79

I have a friend whose son is studying there on a basketball scholarship.She has told me her son who is black and of Cuban origin has been discriminated and treated like a second class citizen at that university.Her son was forced to sit on the floor of the bus at one of the last basketball games in Northern Florida. I asked why did her son go to that school. She said it was for a basketball scholarship. I told her that afroamericans hate Cubans, even if they're black like them. SHe is also very concerned about the rising campus violence. I wouldn't recommend this university to anyone, noo matter what race.

no one
no one

wow, racist bastard much?

Aggie95
Aggie95

bet you hear voices in your head to

 
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