A day after the criminal charging of 13 students involved in the hazing death of Florida A&M University (FAMU) drum major Robert Champion, his family has called for the famous band to be disbanded while they “clear house” to ensure the safety of the students in the band. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the family and their attorney are also accusing FAMU of possibly trying to cover up details about the incident that left the 26-year-old dead. Eleven FAMU band members were charged with felony hazing and causing injury or death and two others face misdemeanor counts of first-degree hazing.
FAMU’s band is renowned and is referred to as the “Marching 100.” In November, the school’s band was traveling with the football team to a game in Orlando against rival Bethune-Cookman. Some have alleged that Champion took part in the initiation ritual called “Crossing Bus C,” where a band member tries to run down the center aisle of a bus while being punched, kicked, and hit by senior band members. Champion allegedly was vomiting and complained of trouble breathing before he passed away. Medical examiners concluded that “within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body.”
FAMU has become notorious for its extensive hazing culture. The Tallahassee-based, historically black college has been the scene of hazing events that have sent students to the hospital, led to multiple suspensions, and sparked a lawsuit in 2008. The family believes more severe charges should be filed against those responsible, with Champion’s mother saying “The term ‘hazing’ in itself is a very light term. I don’t look at it as being a form of bullying. Hazing is a very brutal assault … against another person.” The students are being charged under Florida’s new anti-hazing law, which holds a maximum penalty of six years.
Hazing is a popular rite-of-passage in many institutions of higher education and other organizations, but there have been many instances where it goes terribly awry, leading to possible serious injuries or even death. If you or a loved one has been involved in a hazing incident or has passed away due to the actions of another, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the perpetrators. Fill out the free case review form on the right and find out if you can pursue legal recourse.