Today is the one year anniversary of the hazing death of FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion. The band he loved remains on suspension, and new policies on campus are designed to get students’ attention.
Robert Champion would have turned 27 in July. He would have been head drum major this past fall. Instead, his beloved band is suspended. Eleven people were charged with his hazing death. Brian Jones plead guilty in October. He received probation. “It went further than anybody would ever imagined, wanted or thought it would go”, said Brian Jones in October 2012.
On campus, students face restrictions on joining some organizations and they can’t register for classes without signing an anti-hazing pledge. “I don’t know if it will stop it completely, but it’s a start”, says Davante Webb, FAMU student.
The slow response to the death eventually brought the resignation of then FAMU President James Ammons. In July, university trustees authorized the hiring of the Hazing Czar to oversee all student activities. The university is still interviewing for that position.
Interim President Dr. Larry Robinson says the University is making progress. “However, we think that we elevated their understanding and sensitivity to the issue of hazing”, says Robinson.
The University has offered just three hundred thousand to settle a lawsuit filed by the family. Governor Rick Scott says his prayers go out to the Champions. ” They need to come to a resolution with the Champion family, they need to make sure that there is absolutely no hazing, ever going to happen again. They got to do the right things. It’s a great institution. They got to raise the bar”, says Governor Scott.
At this past Saturday’s Orlando Classic, football fans gave a moment of silence for Robert Champion and hazing victims everywhere.