FAMU Should Become Anti-Hazing Model

Article excerpt

Aggressive steps are being taken in the wake of the death of a drum major of the famed Marching 100 Band at Florida A&M University.

Hazing is being investigated by law enforcement agencies.

The governor has asked all 11 state universities to take action against hazing.

The band has been shut down.

The FAMU board of trustees has reprimanded President James Ammons.

This is all appropriate and would be more impressive if it had occurred before a leading band member died.

The real shame is that hazing has been a long-time issue with the FAMU band.

Just two days before the death of Robert Champion, band director Julian White sent a letter to alumni asking that they help him in "eradicating all vestiges of hazing," reported the Orlando Sentinel.

Two weeks before the death, White suspended 26 band members for hazing.

If those weren't clear warnings that the situation was serious, what were they? Sadly, it took a death to force action.

White, meanwhile, was first fired as band director and now has been placed on administrative leave with pay.

He makes an impressive case that he took aggressive action. He released more than 150 pages of documents illustrating his dismissals of band members for violating the "zero tolerance" policy.

And yet - it wasn't enough.

THIS WASN'T NEW

In 2001, a FAMU band member won a $1.8 million lawsuit against fellow band members because of injuries he sustained from hazing.

What's disturbing is that the hazing expanded beyond the typical initiation rituals for newcomers. In the latest case, it involved a junior drum major.

Hazing is a national problem. A national study in 2008 conducted by professors at the University of Maine concluded that prevention efforts don't go beyond rhetoric that "hazing will not be tolerated."

The study involved 11,000 survey responses from 53 U.S. campuses and over 300 interviews.

"Hazing is woven into the fabric of student life and campus culture in U.S. colleges and universities," the report stated.

"More than half (55 percent) of the students who become involved in campus student organizations, clubs and teams are hazed in the process of becoming a member or maintaining membership in these groups, and nearly seven in 10 students (69 percent) say they are aware of hazing in organizations other than their own."

It's much more than just fraternities and athletic teams, it even includes church-based groups and honor societies. …