The Fall semester begins at Florida A & M University next month. The famed marching band will be on the sideline, suspended over the death of Drum Major Robert Champion. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, incoming freshmen are hoping the school can change its reputation.
Rikki Wills is one of eleven people facing felony charges in the death of his roommate, Drum Major Robert Champion. Wills says he got his first taste of hazing on his very first day at band practice.
“Oh I called my mom the very first day, and I said, ‘look, mom, I gotta go. I don’t want to be here,’” Wills said.
But Wills persevered, finally making the choice to submit himself to the ritual of Crossing Bus C.
“It’s a political move,” Wills said. “If you want respect from the percussion section, which is the largest section in the band and probably the most difficult to control, you would do Bus C.”
The Marching 100 remain suspended, but the music program lives on. Former band members who did not want to be on camera said hazing took a turn for the violent in the late 1980’s.
Hundreds of freshman are exploring the Florida A and M campus this week for orientation.
The one thing that these incoming freshman will have that no one has had before them–there’s someone here whose only job is to prevent hazing.
The anti-hazing czar has yet to start, but incoming freshman Nicholas Polite from Jacksonville thinks the school is headed in the right direction.
“They seem like they have a pretty good plan put together in place for that, and, well, you just gotta believe in them,” Polite said.
Enrollment is expected to be down this fall, the result of higher requirements and bad publicity.