Not to be racist, but Florida A&M turns the minority into the majority. No matter where you’re from, multi-cultural fraternities take hazing to a whole new level. Yet, as previously discussed, fraternities aren’t the only ones professing the age-old art. In this case, a marching band takes things a little too far.
HEADLINES: Student Collapses And Dies After University Marching Band ‘Hazing’
A student collapsed and died after taking part in an extreme initiation rite with a famous university marching band. Robert Champion, 26, was found unresponsive on a bus outside an Orlando Hotel in Florida, where the band were staying after a football match this weekend. He vomited and complained of not being able to breathe before he passed out. The Marching 100 band at Florida A&M University, Tallahasee, has been shut down while an investigation into the drum player’s death takes place. The band has a long history of ‘hazing’ – a practice mainly found in the U.S., in which students are forced to take part in violent or distressing initiation rites in order to join elite clubs or groups. University staff admitted that 30 students were kicked out of the band this semester because of hazing and that there are three active investigations. University president James Ammons said he had suspended the performances and activities of all FAMU’s music groups out of respect for Mr Champion’s family, who live in Atlanta.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said a preliminary autopsy was inconclusive and that more tests would be needed to know what caused Mr Champion’s death. But he said investigators had visited the university and concluded that ‘hazing was involved in the events that occurred prior to the 911 call for assistance.’ In Florida, any death that occurs in connection with hazing is a third-degree felony. ‘In the next few days or weeks, it will become clearer as to whether any criminal charges will be forthcoming,’ added the sheriff in a statement.
Mr Champion’s death followed Marching 100’s performance at a football game in which FAMU lost to annual rival Bethune-Cookman. The band has an impressive history, having played at several Super Bowls and represented the U.S. in Paris at the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. But it has also faced continued controversy related to hazing for more than 20 years. In 1989, eight band members were charged with battery after they allegedly held a student against his will and beat his head with their elbows. Prosecutors dropped the charges after FAMU disciplined the suspects. In 1998, a band member was hit more than 300 times with paddles as part of an initiation into the clarinet section. Tallahassee police dropped their investigation because the band member’s participation in the event was voluntary.
In 2004, trumpet player Marcus Parker was awarded a $1.8million civil judgment after being beaten so hard with a paddle board he suffered kidney failure.Band members this week told the Tallahassee Democrat they would be dismissed from the Marching 100 if they spoke to the media about Mr Champion’s death. The student’s father, also called Robert, said his son had always wanted to be in the band. ‘He did what he wanted to do and he reached the plateau that he wanted to be.’
Rough outcome, but it is what it is. It’s sad, but it seems as though his father understood the position his son was in. In other words, he knew his son was being hazed, and he knew it was a right of passage that his son accepted. Unfortunate story, and our prayers are with the family of the lost.
It’s not hazing. It’s brotherhood.