Hazing Causes Death Of Florida A&M Student

Hazing – Florida A&M University student dies from hazing.

Robert Champion fell in love with music at about age 6 when he saw a marching band at a parade in downtown Atlanta. So mesmerized by the festivities, he came home, took out pots and pans and started banging away like a little drummer.

His passion led him to marching bands from middle school through college. He was a drum major for the famed Marching 100 band of Florida A&M University, a group that has performed at Super Bowls, the Grammys and presidential inaugurations. The prestige brought along a “culture of hazing” and a secret world that played a role in Champion’s death, his family said Monday.

“It needs to stop. The whole purpose is to put this out there and let people know there has to be a change,” Champion’s mother, Pam, said at a news conference.

On Nov. 19, after the school’s football team lost its annual game with rival Bethune-Cookman, Champion collapsed on a bus parked outside an Orlando, Fla., hotel. The 26-year-old junior had been vomiting and complained he couldn’t breathe shortly before he became unconscious.

When authorities arrived about 9:45 p.m., Champion was unresponsive. He died at a nearby hospital.

Authorities have not released many details. An attorney representing Champion’s family also refused to talk specifics.

“We are confident from what we’ve learned that hazing was a part of his death. We’ve got to expose this culture and eradicate it,” Christopher Chestnut said. “There’s a pattern and practice of covering up this culture.”

Since Champion’s death, the school has shuttered the marching band and the rest of the music department’s performances. The longtime band director, Julian White, was fired.

The college also announced an independent review led by a former state attorney general and an ex-local police chief in Tallahassee, where the historically black college is based.