Monday, August 12, 2013

Young scraps drum major corps, opts for three “field commanders”

The Marching 100 drum major corps existed to give students a chance to show that they could exercise responsibility. Many of the band members selected for this honor took the job seriously and went on to make the university proud during their post-graduation years.

One shining example is Adam J. Richardson, Jr., who went from being the 100’s head drum major to an internationally admired bishop in the A.M.E. Church.

The band administration used to trust its drum majors to help report hazing. But the drum major corps from Fall 2011 went rogue and betrayed that trust.

Four of the ex-drum majors from Fall 2011 were charged with hazing. An investigation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office concluded that two other drum majors from that year, Keon Hollis and Robert Champion, “willingly participated” in hazing.

Sylvester Young, FAMU’s new director of bands, has decided to scrap the drum major corps as part of his efforts to restructure the Marching 100 into a safer organization. The 100 will now have a small, select group of three “field commanders.”

The new 100 won’t have student “section leaders,” either. Each section will have a “principal,” instead.

According to a Tampa Bay Times article by FAMU alumna Tia Mitchell, Young “said campus administrators suggested the new title because now only adult band staff will lead rehearsals and teach students.”

This is the right approach. The old 100 was overrun with unauthorized groups like the so-called “Gestapo” and “Clones.” FAMU still has to do battle against the influence of the former students who were associated with those wannabe gangs.

By stripping away much of the power that the band’s student “section leaders” and “drum majors” once held, FAMU has cleared the way for tighter administrative control over the band’s activities. This will help band members get into the habit of doing what the university staffers who enforce the rules say instead doing what their immature peers might say.

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