Saturday night, Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University student Robert Champion died after marching in the Florida Classic in Orlando. Allegedly, Champion exited a University bus, collapsed to the ground, and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. A drum major in the infamous “Marching 100,” allegations of hazing have emerged as the cause of death, and by Tuesday, it was officially confirmed. In the Orange County police report, officers credited hazing for Champion’s death and planned to conduct more medical tests and autopsies.

President of FAMU Dr. James Ammons announced that an “independent task force” would investigate the “unauthorized and questionable activities” within the 375-member marching band, and offered condolences to the Champion family. He also made it clear that all Marching 100 activities are suspended out of respect for the investigation. Yet, in spite of the many hazing allegations associated with the marching band, seven official reports in the last decade, and over 20 students dismissed this year alone under allegations, there has been little to no discussion of the details of the evening leading up to Robert Champion’s death. It seems as though many students would rather unify in silence as opposed to rally for justice of one of their own.

Hazing, is nothing new, and often associated with Greek organizations and band culture at many HBCU campuses. FAMU is, unfortunately, the current example. The increase in deaths and lawsuits associated with the illegal practices should deter abusers from participating, but it hasn’t.

What is troubling is that students continuously adhere to traditions and abuse in silence in aspiration of acceptance, even till death. Involved parties that refuse to share the truth with authorities help shine a negative spotlight on a prestigious University, focusing on foolish and fatal accounts of what is otherwise an amazing organization.

Music programs and marching bands provide scholarship money, education and development to students. However, these programs may now be at risk for further scrutiny, reduced funds or even removal due to incidents such as this.

Why not deeply consider the future of these beloved organizations and University when choosing to cover up hazing? Hazing acts are perpetuated by silence, or the idea that the tradition isn’t up for discussion with any outsiders who have not gone through the experience, but when a young person’s life is a casualty, when does the collective quiet end?

“No snitching” seems like an ignorant and cowardly excuse, when death or serious prosecution (if hazers are identified) is a result. The Champion family is burying their son this Thanksgiving holiday, and all the condolences in the world won’t bring Robert Champion back.

When will enough be enough, and the cycle of abuse and covering up in the name of “tradition” cease? No one deserves to be hazed to death, and certainly without prosecution.

  • teej

    wait. negroids are dying to march around in a hot orange and doodoo green uniforms and to blow on some dang metal?

  • ThisIshRightHere

    my only question: who in the hell is hazing a DRUM MAJOR?

  • sisterAyiti

    A drum major? wtf.. waste of a tuition!

  • African Mami

    @ sisterAyiti

    LOL! It’s called art

  • d.ashilei

    LOL girl that’s not his academic major. durmmajor just means he’s the leader of the band.

  • CaliDreaming86

    You are DISRESPECTFUL!

  • bosslady

    Very disrepectful, clearly that his not his major…You don’t need an MBA to know it means he is the leader of the band. RIP to the young man, very sad.

  • Laina

    A very sad situation, especially at this time of the year. My sympathy to the family.

  • Laina

    Also, not sure why a story about a young man passing away elicted some strange coments. He was someone’s child, that made it to college and was involved in a constructive activity.

  • http://@clnmike Clnmike

    So close to the holiday. They wont know anything for sure till they get the autopsy back, but I do find it strange that a Drum-major would be the victim of hazing.

  • TheBlackBelle

    I really don’t think some of these commenters went to college. Drum majors are leaders of the band. They are usually the center of attention, especially in the south, where bands are popular and part of culture. Hazing is just as prevalent in bands as well because bands do have fraternities/sororities within themselves. Ever heard of Kappa Kappa Psi? Tau Beta Sigma?
    My condolences go out to this young man’s family.

  • SassyFrassy

    I thought it was strange also. But a friend of mine who knew him told me that he dropped his staff that night, and so it was less the traditional idea of hazing than a punishment, if you will. Very, very sad in any case.

    I grew up in HBCU campuses, so I adore the black college marching band, but not this part of it.

  • http://@clnmike Clnmike

    If thats the case your right it’s not hazing, it’s punishment either way it was uncalled for, what is disturbing about a lot of these organizations like bands, Frats and Soros seem to be prone to violence in their rituals. They seem incapable or unwilling to find other ways to get their point across.

  • chanela

    *faints* ROFL

  • yannii

    I go to FSU which is literally right down the street and have heard a lot more than this article implies. In addition to dropping his mace on the field, he was also “crossing bus c” so everybody that’s saying he was a drum-major, a leader, that doesn’t matter. The hazing that goes on in the band is never ending. You get hazed to be in the 100, to be apart of your section, to be a section leader, to be a drum major, and YES to sit on a certain bus.

    Hazing is RIDICULOUS at FAMU. Modeling troupes and dance groups there have paddles and “line” jackets. It’s really sad the lengths someone will allow themselves to go through to be apart of something. What’s even more sad is that, the kappas at FAMU have been off the yard since 06 and those guilty are in prison, and that same year somebody from the band reported hazing when his kidney collapsed from it and was awarded $1.8 million. Have they not learned from any of this? Apparently not.

  • TheBlackBelle

    I totally agree @yannii. I have several close friends down there and it’s like a big thirsty party of “who-can-take-worst-hazing” or something! Do you want to be “somebody” that bad? Yes, everyone once to feel accepted to some degree, but this is way out of hand. Most college kids don’t truly know themselves until maybe junior/senior yr, so the weaker ones are almost up for anything.Know when to say stop!I think the school in itself is excellent, but like you said, they ain’t learned since the Kappas and that made MAJOR national news! I will say, the modeling and dance troupes are incorporated as well so sometimes they feel they need to “prove” something because they are not NPH organizations.Not all, but some. I still must support my sister troupe FACES!

  • SassyFrassy

    I don’t think they’re incapable of it. In fact, they prove otherwise all the time. However, I think the prevalence of it and the fact that it became “tradition” is a direct link back to the slave mentality. That’s not an attempt to rationalize, just to contextualize it. It needs to stop, post haste, whatever its cause is though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hareema-Akinak/100000531851239 Hareema Akinak

    It’s pretty obvs that Sister Ayiti never attended school- otherwise she would have known that a drum major is not an academic major.

  • Ash

    When you say Kappas, do you mean KKPsi or KAPsi?

  • BlackataPWI

    What people fail to realize though is that hazing is just as bad if not worse at white schools. The students at my school haze in public, during the day, at night, in front of administrators, during class and no one says anything! There have been several incidents where students have been rushed to the hospital and almost died but their fraternities and sororities get no punishment. But then the AKAs on my campus did one little thing where no one was seriously hurt at night, got caught and were kicked off the yard for three years. Why do the Black students get more of the heat for this when it’s happening everywhere!

  • Kit

    What is hazing? These Greek organisations don’t exist in UK universities.

  • TheBlackBelle

    KAPsi

  • Gigi Young

    What exactly did they do this poor guy? I’m confused.

  • Nikki

    I knew someone who pledged Kappa Kapp Psi band fraternity, and during his Hell Night, he was beaten with a metal rod and still made to attend his probate. He ended up going to the hospital the following night due to his kidneys failing. So sad.

  • Kit

    OMG!
    Are these fraternities like friendship groups or clubs/ societies?
    Why do people want to join groups if they have to go through torture and beatings to get in?
    Do most fraternities have Hell Nights?

  • SisterAyiti

    Perhaps it is you who never attended school because if you did you’d know that not all universities have a school band and that’s why I was unaware of the term “drum major.”

    Which is a good thing– more of my money being spent on learning resources and less on activity fees.

  • SisterAyiti

    You are in college to LEARN. Get an education, volunteer, intern, network, make a few friends and get out. What’s with the cliques? Hazing? Really? Y’all wanna belong that bad.

    Sad to say FSU is at the bottom. Many of the kids who graduate from there still can’t construct a complete sentence without syntax errors all over the page.

  • chanela

    THANK YOU!!!! why the hell are people dying in college over something silly like a “greek” organization. honestly what is the point of them? what do they do that is so special? is it like the girl/boy scouts or something? why do you have to be humiliated and near death just to clap your hands and smack your thigh?

  • bosslady

    Sister Ayiti, Not to continiue the conversation, but my university never had a drum band, further to that I’m from the UK so NO schools have drum bands (it’s an American thing) but I am still enlightened enough to know what it means, so your excuse is poor, in addition you are not paying for his tuition so how can you say it is a waste? All you had to say is RIP, that is somebody’s child… Nevertheless HAPPY THANKSGIVING ALL!

  • bosslady
  • Hmmm…

    Being a black girl from the Caribbean but living in the U.S., I’ve always found Frats/Sororities and now this Band (at an HBCU) such inconsistent aspects of African-American culture. While I love the idea of developing a brotherhood and sisterhood (and understand why that was so necessary in the past), I can’t figure out how many African-Americans will ABUSE, BEAT and TORTURE their OWN brothers and sisters (similarly to how slaves were beaten and abused by slave masters).

    Now I realize that this is the unpopular opinion, and I know sooo many people who say “Nuh uh, my organization don’t haze!” Well I happen to know the inside scoop of many of these organizations and physical, mental and verbal abuse seems to be the norm. NEWSFLASH…let’s stop TREATING our brothers and sisters the way the slave masters treated our ancestors. It may end up like how this did.

  • Hmmm…

    SisterAyiti,

    AGREED! Go to college to learn! People are so wrapped up in being a part of something! There is no organization I want to be a part of so bad that I would allow someone to abuse me in order to get in. Either way, RIP to the one who passed and I hope that the ones who dished out the abuse get the appropriate punishment. They are grown.

  • bosslady

    I concur. This needs to end.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hareema-Akinak/100000531851239 Hareema Akinak

    @SisterAyiti- Uh…I went to both HS and Colleges that didn’t have bands, but I still know what a drum major is.

    And second off- Your defensiveness isn’t going to cover up the fact that you sounded like a complete fool right about now. In addition, you’re completely heartless. I hope your lack of compassion doesn’t lead you to experience the same type of grief Robert’s parents are going through right now.

  • Jazzy

    May I ask what evidence have you came across to draw a conclusion that FSU students “can’t construct a complete sentence without syntax errors all over the page”?

    What does this article’s topic, death of a FAMU drum major, have to do with the Florida State University?

    Just a question…might I add I’m a FSU grad.

  • BlackataPWI

    Wow, what was with the comment about FSU? That was totally uncalled for and had absolutely nothing to do with the article.

  • http://clutchmagonline cherry

    Being hazed is a choice!

  • http://mydoubleconsciousness.wordpress.com/ Alexander Allen

    It is up to the people who have been through similar experiences to change it for others. My heart goes out to this family

  • QON

    The band, the frats, the sorors, the football team, the basketball team, the lacrosse team arent the issue. Belonging to these groups and organizations, WHEN DONE RIGHT can be an enriching university experience. What the heads of the unis and colleges need to do is come down hard, i.e suspend, kick out, and even pursue criminal charges against anyone that engages in any type of violence or intimidation.

  • http://yourcommunitree.com Dominique Reese

    I hope that discussions like this one that we are having, will help to further the discussion about these organizations and their practices. Discourse is one way to begin revealing opinions and facts about such things. Its unfortunate that we must have an impetus of death to highlight the inhumane nature of these practices, however, its just another “issue” or “problem” depending on how you look at it, in our communities of color. Why do we find the need to exert violence against one another, in order to share a brotherhood/sisterhood? I am from South Central Los Angeles, grew up in a gang-infested neighborhood and its the same principle. You want to join our gang, we will beat your ass first. Whether one fights back or not, one is going to walk away abused, because one is simply outnumbered. Talking about still being enslaved. I just want my people to wake the hell up…We must continue to talk about this in our smaller intimate circles and to create the discourse online. Let’s not forget we’ve lost many to such practices, whether through gangs in the streets of LA or in colleges and universities in the South. However, the powers at be dont mind, as long as we self-destruct, their hands are clean. Peace.

  • Nikeeta

    This certainly has to stop. I’m not sure what the fees are to participate in band, but isn’t it really expensive to join Frats and Sororities? It’s like you’re putting a down payment on an ass whoopin’! What kinda fool sense is that?

  • I`am not MAD

    TAKE The time to read Dr. King`s THE DRUM MAJOR it can be GOOGLE then have a great day….

  • JK

    and people fail to realize this

  • JK

    clearly your band must have sucked….

  • JK

    the only people that can put a drum major through “pledging” is fellow or previous drum majors. By this time in the HBCU pledging/band calendar, I’m quite sure that they would have already “crossed” that section, if not earlier being that from his position in the organziation.

  • JK

    TheBlackBelle, Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma have nothing to do with this incident….. Individuals crab and cross their section…that’s certain individuals and sections… nothing to do with Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma. If KKPsiTBSigma were involved then their national headquarters would have been notified and both would have been suspended immediately,especially being at a HBCU….the Delta Iota chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi is currently active so they did not have anything to do with this incident-as a whole. The Marching 100, the sections, and Kappa Kappa Psi are 3 different entities that work together for one goal: uplifting the band and make them “better” . just so you know……

  • The Comment

    Wow!!!! What people do to feel a sense of BELONGING!!!

  • BleuMorpho

    Its so stupid and I don’t see the purpose for doing this ish.

  • teej

    JK, sorry, i didn’t attend a 5th tier, underfunded hbcu. we didn’t have bands to die for; we were actually learning, and stuff…

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