Before the New Year set in, Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) introduced anti-hazing legislation on the heels of the November death of a Florida A&M drum major from a brutal hazing ritual. Apparently, different cliques formed in the band based on the bus they ride, instrument group, or the city they are originally from. Each of these groups have established non-sanctioned rituals which include hazing beatings by admitted members onto those who want to join the cliques.
They have nothing to do with the band itself, music, or the four band fraternities that exist at A&M which is – consequently – a very well-known and popular Historically Black College and University.
After performing in the Florida Classic in Orlando, Robert Champion was repeatedly hit, punched and kicked as he walked in between a double line of Bus C clique members from the back to the front of the bus. The 26-year old later died from injuries sustained during the ritual, coroners concluded recently.
Amid a firestorm of controversy and scandal, the FAMU Board of Governors decided to allow FAMU president James Ammons to remain in his position and assist in the investigation, despite calls from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) that Ammons steps down. The school first fired the Band Director Julian White then took him back and placed him on administrative leave while the school sorted out the details.
White has argued that he’s made attempts to halt hazing all along and has complained to school officials who have turned a blind eye.
Champion’s death is certainly not the first hazing death in history. Author and investigative journalists Hank Nuwer chronicles all hazing-related or hazing-suspected deaths of young people on his Hazing Death Website that date back to the year 1838. Of the 145 and growing list of hazing deaths linked to driving-fatigue automobile deaths to alcohol 100% of those associated with historically Black fraternities and sororities that make up the Divine 9 were beating related deaths.
Most hazing deaths linked to non-Historical Black Greek organizations had to do with alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related accidents.
It has caused many to reevaluate the role of violence within the Black Greek community once again, which some say resort to physical beating more so than their White Greek counterparts. Both groups have been known to use hazing tactics, including forced memorization of sacred historical facts about the organization, dress requirements, early morning wake up calls, consumption of unsavory foods and items and other grueling mental and physical tests, aside from physical beating.