By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Asked what was at the root of the school's troubles, Duncombe literally spells it out: "C-R-O-O-K-S," he intones with a chuckle. "But I think you always get what you pay for." His freshman year, he says, tuition was only $1,600, almost half of what Florida International University was charging. (FMU still offers a bargain-basement rate for a private education — $12,254 per year — and 96 percent of its students receive financial aid.)
As Florida Memorial settled in, its surroundings, which would later become Miami Gardens, transformed from rural rabbit-hunting territory to a pleasant burb to today's barred-window environs. Longtime residents blame Section 8 housing development for importing poverty and crime from places such as Overtown and Liberty City, a controversial stance that Mayor Shirley Gibson echoed in 2007 when she banned further low-income housing in Miami Gardens.
A national study released this past November shows Miami Gardens is the second most dangerous city in Florida, behind only Orlando. And a recent Miami Herald study casts Florida Memorial's 33054 zip code, which also includes parts of Opa-locka, as the most dangerous in the county for teenagers. Nearby Carol City Senior High School has grappled with a Fallujah-like body count, losing at least six students from one recent graduating class to murder.
15900 NW 42 Ave.
Opa-locka, FL 33054
Region: Miami Gardens
In 2002, Florida Memorial was rocked by the revelation of a grade-fixing scheme that implicated a large fraction of its student population. Two registrar employees and three students with access to digital transcripts were charged with racketeering after it was discovered they had improved the grades of 122 students in return for cash. Three years later, the scandal continued to haunt the institution when it was revealed that at least four of those tainted students had gone on to teach in Miami-Dade public schools.
As in those early days, instability still reigns in FMU's front office. In August 2009, the school's president, Karl S. Wright, was abruptly removed from the position after two years. No explanation has been given for Wright's ouster, and the former president did not return a message left at his Weston home. Interim President Thompson says she has "no idea" when a permanent president might be appointed.
Today, the school has shrunk. It now has a little more than 1,800 students, down from 2,300 when the grade-fixing scandal took place. Only 38 percent of students graduate within six years, 15 percent less than the national average. And the university's admission requirements — a 2.4 minimum high school GPA is "flexible" — have given it a lax reputation that its top administrators are well aware of. Says Thompson: "We do look at nontraditional students. But this idea that we just let anybody in who applies is not true."
Despite the turmoil, there have been bright spots. FMU proudly touts its aeronautics/aviation/aerospace science and technology program, which boasts its most prestigious modern alum: Barrington Irving, who in 2007, as a senior at the school, became the youngest and the first black pilot to fly solo around the world. "It's a shame what has transpired at Florida Memorial," Irving says about the Emory Mitchell incident, insisting, "When I was on campus, I never had one problem with crime."
Irving, however, "wasn't your average college student," he says. He spent less than two full semesters in Miami Gardens. For many students who have studied full-time at FMU, campus life has been far from idyllic.
STAT 312: Crime Statistics
Theodus Theon Times isn't the type of student you'd expect to sneak a gun into school. The reedy 24-year-old from Deerfield Beach packs only 170 pounds on his six-foot-one-inch frame. He always neatly tucks in his collared shirts and gets his hair trimmed with a near-obsessive frequency. Admits his mother, Thais: "When you see him, the first thing you think is that he looks like a nerd."
Theodus Times wants to be an embalmer. So in 2006, after receiving an associate's degree in funeral science from FIU, he enrolled at Florida Memorial. He was working toward earning a funeral director and embalmer's license, which in the state of Florida requires a specialized bachelor's degree.
But Times — who did not return messages requesting interviews left with his mother and on his cell phone — ran into trouble on campus. He was at a party when some "gangbangers" picked a fight with him and flashed waistbanded handguns, threatening his life, Mom says. They weren't students: "They were just friends with some people who actually went to Florida Memorial, and security always let them come onto campus."
His personal history did not allow him to take the threats lightly. When Times was 6, his father, Theodus Sr., was killed by a gunshot to the back of the head while drinking at a dive bar in Fort Lauderdale. The elder Theodus, who had cocaine possession and resisting arrest on his record, "liked to hang out in the wrong places with the wrong people," his widower says without going into more detail. "He had a disagreement with somebody who wanted him dead, and that was it. I think that had a lot to do with Theodus [Jr.'s] doing what he did. He thought, I'm not going out like that."
From a closet in his home, the kid unearthed his dad's dusty .22-caliber Savage Stevens — a rifle commonly used for hunting small birds.
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".
No way, blacks are more violent than any other people? And are more prone to harming there own kind? GTFO !
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.
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.
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Wait, you mean there is a higher crime rate in areas that have a black majority? G.T.F.Outta here...
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...
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!
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.
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
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...
Students must take responsibility for their own personal protection because the only one you can expect to rescue you from being another defenseless victim is YOU! http://www.urbansafetysolution...
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 .......
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.
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..
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.
Karen, what "white" schools??? Last time I checked, the other schools in the miami area are OPEN TO ANYONE who meets the requirements.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
#6. Have you taken youe basic Language Arts requirments?What a shame that this Local University has this problem.
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
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
it's not just students, faculty and staff are scared toothe trustees better fix this messfire most of the administratorsget rid of the delinquents
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.