Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tallahassee Democrat, Orlando Sentinel express confidence in Sylvester Young

Last week, two Florida editorial boards gave strong votes of confidence to Sylvester Young, FAMU’s new director of bands. They applauded Interim President Larry Robinson for selecting an experienced music professor and a tough disciplinarian to rebuild the Marching 100.

“Dr. Robinson deserves credit for taking charge of the situation and taking the appropriate steps to hire additional staff to help oversee band operations,” the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board wrote. “By hiring Mr. Young he is bringing in a seasoned, no-nonsense musician and band director who has experienced a successful career in directing and managing marching bands.”

The Orlando Sentinel editorial board also praised Young’s return to The Hill.

“Hiring Sylvester Young as the new band director is another plus,” the Sentinel editorial board wrote. “He’s a FAMU alumnus and former Marching 100 trombone player. He’s a strong leader who’s led bands at two other historically black universities. He understands the culture of hazing and his vital role in putting an end to it.”

Back in May, Pamela and Robert Champion, Sr. criticized Young’s hiring. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office concluded that their son, Robert Champion, Jr., died after he “willingly participated” in an act of hazing that followed the 2011 Florida Classic in Orlando.

According to the Orlando Sentinel: “In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Robert and Pamela Champion also questioned why Florida A&M University hired a new band director who acknowledged he was hazed while he was a FAMU student.”

Young admitted that back when he was a member of the Marching 100, upperclassmen bullied him out of a hotel room during an out-of-town game in Miami and told him to take off a pair of red socks he had worn.

The fact that Young was a victim of hazing doesn’t erase his proven record of strictly enforcing anti-hazing rules throughout his entire collegiate band directing career. That’s how he kept students safe while leading the band programs at Lincoln University, Hampton University, and Ohio University.

The Tallahassee Democrat and Orlando Sentinel are right to urge Floridians to give Young a fair chance based upon his decades of success in fighting hazing.

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