Orange County Sheriff: Hazing involved in FAMU student's death
The death of a Florida A&M University student and drum major in the school’s famous Marching “100” band may have been linked to hazing, according to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings.
The student, 26-year-old Robert Champion was with the Marching "100" in Orlando this week, where they were performing during the Florida Classic football game. ..........Champion had just gotten off of the bus when he began vomiting and complaining he could not breathe.
Champion was rushed to Doctor Phillips Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
Sheriff Demings has said that any students responsible in the hazing will face felony charges. No arrests have been made yet, and the investigation is ongoing.
The president of Florida A&M University, Dr. James Ammons, says the band has been suspended “indefinitely”, or until the investigation is finished..........
Ammons also announced plans to launch a separate task to see if there are any “questionable actions” of “culture” of the Marching “100”. He says that this task force's role will not be to find a culprit in the alleged hazing, that job is for Orange County Sheriff's Office detectives, but to focus solely on the behavior of the band.
More information and includes video from Sheriff Demings:
He states the autopsy is inconclusive and more tests are needed...the investigation is continuing..
FAMU pays tribute to drum major
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Hundreds packed an auditorium on Florida A and M University's campus Tuesday night to remember 26-year-old Robert Champion.
Robert came to school, first year, didn't have much money, low scholarship, he had to drop out, he came back again, he had to drop out again,” said Julian White, FAMU Director of Bands, “(but) he stayed and he worked.”
..........I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we eradicate hazing from this campus,” said FAMU President James Ammons.
By Arelis R. Hernández and Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
November 23, 2011
FAMU has fired longtime band director Julian White, four days after the death of a drum major in which police say hazing was involved.
"Dr. White has been terminated from employment at the university," said FAMU President James Ammons, citing White's "inability to stop hazing in the department of music and in the band."
"We are serious: This has to stop," Ammons said in an interview with the Sentinel. "The highest priority we have as a university is protecting the health, safety and well-being of our students."
Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday sent a letter requesting that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement assist in the investigation "to assure that the circumstances … become fully known."
Parents of several members of the FAMU "Marching 100" band told the Sentinel on Tuesday that they have implored university officials for months to end verbal and physical abuse in the band.
Dr. Walter Kimbrough, an expert on hazing, said that, with Champion's death, the culture of violence within the "Marching 100" has reached crisis levels.
Kimbrough was an expert witness in the 1998 hazing case of FAMU clarinet player Ivery Luckey, hospitalized for 11 days with kidney failure after he was paddled during a initiation ritual.
"There is a major hazing-culture problem on this campus," Kimbrough said. "This has to be a wake-up call."
Luckey later sued the school and settled for $50,000. Another former band member, Marcus Parker, won a $1.8 million verdict against members of the band in 2004.
More at link...
this really bothers me. I didn't expect hazing in Marching Band I don't know why, but the band kids I know in high school are so charming and respectful -- I don't want that to change when my son goes off to college (and will try out for marching band).
It horrifies me! Right now the parents are there at practice and events -- college, not so much.
After reading this article I sat down with my 14 year old and told him it was NOT okay to be on the receiving or giving end, and if he sees anything like that he needs to tell me. I would have said tell another adult, but after the Penn State fiasco, I'm not very trusting. If I ever hear or see this type of behaviour, they better watch out! I won't put up with it, not for a second.
May this young man rest in peace. And may those involved pay the price!!
TALLAHASSEE -- Fallout from the death of a Florida A&M University drum major intensified this week with the firing of the school’s band director, the suspensions of four students and Gov. Rick Scott ordering the state’s law enforcement agency to assist with the investigation.
Ammons refused to give details about the suspensions, citing student privacy laws. He said they were suspended because of their “known association with the hazing that took place over the weekend.”
On Tuesday, he indefinitely suspended the 375-member marching band and other performance ensembles supervised by the music department.
In a letter to FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey, Gov. Scott said he wanted Champion’s death “to become fully known” and for anyone directly or indirectly responsible for his death to be brought to justice.
“The reality,” Scott wrote, “is that the death investigation significantly impacts the University, the Tallahassee community and the State of Florida as a whole.”
His group sang Total Praise during Champion’s memorial service on campus Tuesday. Champion was one of six drum majors — a big-time leader.
“He didn’t mess with anybody,” Thomas said. “If he had to get on you it was because it was his duty as a natural-born leader.”
Thirty band members have been suspended this semester because of hazing allegations, and the university has three active hazing investigations.
Death involving hazing is a third-degree felony in Florida, but hazing has permeated the band and university.
Administrators met with the band and staff twice last week to warn of the legal consequences of hazing, Ammons said.
Ultimately, Thomas said, it’s up to students to break the culture.
“It’s all about choices,” Thomas said. “You have a choice to do certain things, and then you have a choice not to.”
On the day Robert Champion died, he texted his parents a photograph of himself with a young boy from a children's marching band......
"When I woke up on Thanksgiving I tried to write down what I had to be thankful for, and I thought it was that I was thankful that I was chosen to be his mother," his mother said.
......The mom said her son had always dreamed of joining the marching band.
"His first sight of the [Florida A&M University] band was at the age of 5. And ever since then, he set his goal," she told ABC News. "He would march around in the driveway with a broom handle."
Police and former band members say Champion was likely forced to walk through a "gauntlet of fists." He reportedly vomited and said he couldn't breathe moments before his death.
"He wanted to be a part of music and that's the way he lived his life," his father said, "He wanted to get a degree in music and try to help other people, other kids develop themselves. And I'm proud of him."
That joyful spirit is what they now remember.
Ex-FAMU band leader wants job back
He thinks he was unfairly dismissed...
"White says he fears the hazing linked to the death could mean the end of the school's famed Marching 100 band. The band had performed at Super Bowls and other high-profile events."
Despite suspensions, hazing persisted at FAMU
"A former band member told The Associated Press on Tuesday that White looked for ways to eradicate a culture of hazing that existed in many instrument sections of the band. White invited band members to anonymously report hazing and even had police come along on some away games, former drum major Timothy Barber told AP."
Florida A&M hazing scandal: Drum major’s family will sue school, attorney says
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nati...#ixzz1f8gfh3gL
Attorney Christopher Chestnut said Robert Champion's family is bringing the lawsuit against the historically black university in order to send a message about the dangers of hazing among college bands, Atlanta television station WXIA reported.
A cause of death hasn't been determined, but school officials said it was a case of hazing gone wrong.
Though he was one of the senior members of the famed band, the Marching 100, rumors swirled on blogs and social media sites that Champion may have been targeted by his bandmates because he dropped his baton during a performance, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
No arrests have been made.
"They are going to have to treat this like a fraternity and sorority case," Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Philander Smith College in Arkansas, told the Journal Constitution. "You shut down the band for several years."
"If this was a fraternity death, the chapter gets suspended. That is the boldest, most controversial step the school could make," he added.
FAMU band hazing goes way back, reports sayFormer victim feared it would happen again.
He knew it would take hard work, practice and dedication.
But Luckey eventually found out what it really took -- a trip through a gauntlet in which he was severely beaten by a group of established clarinet players.
The director of the Marching Band knew this was going on (this student survived and filed a lawsuit). It goes as far back as 1988..
An Oct. 20, 1998, letter sent by several parents informed FAMU and Marching 100 officials that their children had been beaten and paddled during hazing incidents.
So frustrating! A life could have been saved!!
The only way to stop this is to get rid of all of them, and start fresh. Once hazing gets entrenched in an organization, it gets worse and worse with each passing of leadership - the desire to torture others as they have been tortured is just too strong to extinguish. It does seem, in looking back through the history of this in the last decade or so the administration did try hard, and White tried hard, to eliminate hazing from the point of Ivery Luckey's successful lawsuit for injuries, settled in 2004.
Get rid of them all, and start afresh with a new group of freshmen next fall.
I see it in high school - all the cliques and how each section tries to be the most popular. Who can have the coolest t-shirts, who can have the best players.
I also think judging needs to change. Stop judging sections like drumeline, percussion, horns, etc. Again, this is why each section is so competitive of the other! Judge the marching band alone to force everyone to work as a team.
And get rid of that crappy band director, who no doubt assigns his terrorist section leaders. In any case, the entire band will have to be realigned if there's any chance of success and to prevent hazing in the future.
Band members who were with Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion on the bus in a parking lot in Orlando, Florida, where he died last month tried frantically to get him help when they realized he was not breathing, a 911 tape released Thursday reveals.
"One of our drum majors is on the bus and not breathing," a male caller tells a female dispatcher for the Orange County Fire Rescue.
"Is he breathing or is he not breathing?" she asks.
"We don't know if he's breathing or not, but we need to get an ambulance ASAP."
More at link...
Two decades ago, the now-ousted director of the Florida A&M band warned in a letter about the dangers of hazing among the famed "Marching 100" ensemble, saying "it would be very difficult for the university and the band should someone become killed or hurt."
In the following years, however, hazing seemed to become a bigger - if not a more public - problem. Police investigated several serious cases and students were arrested. Anti-hazing workshops were held. Dozens of band members were suspended. University officials and the marching band community were keenly aware of the persistent hazing, yet it continued and is believed to have played a role in the death this month of a 26-year-old drum major, Robert Champion.
Champion's death started a blame game of sorts, with the historically black college in Tallahassee firing its band director, Julian White, accusing him of "misconduct and/or incompetence." In turn, White released more than 150 pages of documents showing that he warned the university for years about what was going on.
More at link....
As a band director, he did little.
White invited band members to anonymously report hazing and even had police come along on some away games, former drum major Timothy Barber told AP.
It's customary for police to attend games. They even attend high-school games -- this is not out of the ordinary or a threat to anyone...especially the football team or band members.
White had police escort the trumpet section off the field to be interrogated to show he would not tolerate hazing, Barber said.
Wow - how noble of him. What did this accomplish? Nothing, obviously.
But some sections had their own violent initiation rituals. White bought buckets of white paint and asked Barber to cover up the section nicknames on the wall.
He covered up the nicknames of the sections that had violent rituals? Really? Are we in 2nd grade?
About a dozen people pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received probation in that case, though it's not clear what actions, if any, the university took to punish them.
Since the university would not release what punishment, if any, the dozen or so students received, IMHO, it couldn't be very much. If any student was thrown out of school for hazing in the past, I'm confident the band Director would be all over it as this point.
I see a lot of talk in the past, but very very little action.
ATLANTA (AP) — Four Florida A&M University students have been expelled for their role in what is believed to be a hazing death of a marching band member, the latest blemish for a rich and cherished institution at historically black colleges.
Hazing is part of the price band members pay at HBCUs to be part of a vaunted campus tradition that eclipses the prestige and popularity of the football team. Band members can endure anything from punching to paddling to being forced to drink copious amounts of water, all for a chance to perform in front of thousands of people at football games, parades and other high-profile events.
On HBCU campuses, band members are often given perks and treated like celebrities.
"If you were in the band, it was like you were a superstar," said Fontreia James, a piccolo player for three years in the marching band at Jackson State University in Mississippi. "People don't come to the games to see the football team. People come to see the band."
Former state Sen. Al Lawson is a Florida A&M alumnus who was named to a university task force to look into Champion's death, one of several investigations announced in the aftermath. Lawson said hazing was difficult for the school to deal with.
"They're students, but they really kind of take over. The staff is too small," Lawson said. "You've got to have some people to depend on to take care of 400, 500 people. As they get to senior status, they have a lot of power. These students really don't think they're doing anything wrong."
They see going through this struggle, that has nothing to do with music obviously, but they see it as reaffirming of their dedication to the band, their dedication to their section, and a rite of passage," Jones said. "It's all about this very intense desire at that age to belong and be accepted. And it's getting people killed and injured."
Much more at link...
(long running list of articles from the beginning of the case)
Florida A&M University (FAMU) President James H. Ammons has postponed the work of a task force that he appointed to review anti-hazing regulations. The task force was scheduled to meet on Monday, December 5.
“Based upon input from the Governor’s Office and in light of the recently announced November 29 investigation by the Board of Governors, I believe it will be prudent to postpone the work of the task force to allow this and other investigations to be pursued with our full cooperation and attention,” said FAMU President James H. Ammons .
In addition to the investigation by the BOG, there is an ongoing investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The owner of the company that transported Florida A&M University band members says the driver did not hear or see any commotion on the bus before drum major Robert Champion collapsed and died after an apparent act of hazing.
Ray Land, president of Fabulous Coach Lines, says his company
has transported the "Marching 100" to many games and never had
any incidents of hazing or inappropriate conduct on the buses.
I don't think it happened on the bus...it most likely happened as they were leaving the stadium to board the bus...I understand they think he had to run thru a "gauntlet of fists", as it's known...
The allegations of hazing are also sparking possible new legislation. Members of "Policy for People" say they're preparing to propose a law to stop hazing altogether in Florida.
The law would be called the "Robert Champion Anti-Hazing Bill."
FAMU students say the bill would be different from current hazing laws in that it would encompass psychological aspects of hazing as well as the physical aspects.
The group plans to present the proposal next week.
A group of FAMU students say the firing of Dr. Julian White is a good first step in the right direction in getting rid of hazing on campus.
However, the students have other demands, too.
FAMU student Lucas Melton says, "Julian White, the director of bands for Florida A&M University, should be fired."
FAMU students say it's only right that that's what the university has done.
Melton says the death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion ultimately sits on the shoulders of Dr. Julian White.
He says, "He sits at the head of the Marching 100. So, everything that happens with that group is under his watch. He was asleep at the wheel."
........Melton and other members of the grassroots student organization, Policy for People, demand that administrators suspend the Marching 100 for at least two years.
.......The students are also asking administrators to form a Truth and Reconciliation Board.
Jamaal Rose says, "To allow people to come forward about the things that they have gone through, past and present; allow them to be honest and up-front, because if we don't allow them to be honest and up-front, we will never get rid of hazing."
The students say they will officially present their demands to administrators on Monday.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Just two days before Florida A&M University student Robert Champion died after suspected hazing, two university officials met with band members in an attempt to dissuade them from the practice.
The meeting was called by university officials after Dr. Julian White suspended 26 band members for involvement in hazing. Several of those suspensions were connected to the alleged hazing of Bria Hunter, a freshman clarinet player who was hospitalized with a fractured thigh bone.
FAMU Police Chief Calvin Ross and Henry Kirby, Dean of Students, spoke with the 400-plus member band the day before they were to travel to Orlando for the Florida Classic, according to Dr. White.
More at link...
Long article goes into the history of hazing at FAMU...I disagree that a lot of fans didn't know about the practice..it has been reported in the papers many times in the past and was well known to people who never went to the school or games...
One thing the article does bring out is that the hazing of Champion did take place on the bus:
"Champion was looking to join the “Bus C” group after the Florida Classic game when he collapsed on the band’s charter bus and died, said Christopher Chestnut, a Gainesville attorney who is representing Champion’s family. The Champions have filed a civil lawsuit against the university.
The initiation process for crossing over into Bus C involved walking from one end of a bus to the other while enduring a flurry of punches from members of the group, mostly percussionists.
It’s unclear why Champion, who was one of six drum majors in the Marching 100, would submit to a hazing ritual, although his mother said he was very dedicated to the band. The music major, who grew up in Atlanta and had taken time off from school while struggling to complete his degree, had dreamed of playing in the Marching 100 since childhood. He was buried last week in his drum major uniform."
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/0...#ixzz1fdRnCBzC
FAMU Puts Band Director's Dismissal On Hold
In Wednesday's announcement, which came as a result of a Florida Department of Law Enforcement recommendation, FAMU said that it had placed White on administrative leave with pay on Monday, "until the completion of the investigation and rescinded the dismissal of four students who received disciplinary action as a result of activity surrounding the Robert Champion incident."
"Consistent with the commitment of the FAMU Board of Trustees and President Ammons to be fully cooperative, we are awaiting the outcome of the investigation before any personnel or disciplinary actions are taken," said FAMU spokeswoman Sharon P. Saunders in a statement. "We are honoring the recommendations of not only FDLE, but the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the Board of Governors as we await the completion of their investigations."
More at link....
Bizarre. Three men in the band gathered together to beat down this female band member, who is now leaving the university.
Defies belief. Since when do young men band together to pound a fellow female student at a university in the US?
Loser men do beat their own women in a relationship, but I have never ever heard of a group of college men gathering together to beat some woman they don't have a relationship with, who is a fellow student.
Disband this band, already. It's Lord of the Flies time there. What a bizarre culture of bottom dwellers.
UPDATE: Three FAMU students arrested for hazing
.......Thursday night, Tallahassee police arrested Sean Hobson, 23, Aaron Golson, 19, and James Harris, 22.
The three men each face one count of hazing; Golson and Hobson each face an additional count of Felony Battery.
According to a probable cause report, the three men are accused of hazing a fellow student, Bria Hunter.
This is good but I'll be glad when they start the arrests for Champion's case.
I will never understand how anyone can take pleasure/satisfaction from harming causing pain, sadness to someone else. What's worse, this seemed pretty pervasive at FAMU and for what appears to be a long time. What is wrong with people? How can anyone purposely submit another human being to this type of treatment?
"Life is life's greatest gift. Guard the life of another creature as you would your own because it is your own. On life's scale of values, the smallest is no less precious to the creature who owns it than the largest..." Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
Let's bring Michelle Parker home: http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...ichelle+parker
All statements made by me are based on my opinion.