Tuesday, September 03, 2013

FAMU right to give MUN 1110’s return priority over bringing a sorority back to the yard

On Sunday, the parents of slain drum major Robert Champion, Jr. protested the Marching 100’s return to the field by attending its performance during the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando. They continue to criticize FAMU for giving the band a shorter suspension than a campus sorority linked to a reported hazing incident that didn’t result in a student death.

“FAMU recently suspended two sororities for multiple years of incidents involving hazing,” Pamela Champion said in quote published by Reuters back in June. “Why is the band being held to a much more lenient standard, following the brutal hazing that resulted in the death of my son?”

FAMU suspended the Marching 100 for a year and a half from November 2011 through June 2013. The university recently placed its chapters of Delta Sigma Theta and Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority on suspension, as well. The Deltas will remain off the yard for three years, until June 30, 2016. The Gammas won’t return until June 30, 2014. Both disciplinary actions came in the wake of hazing allegations.

The Champion family’s objection to the fact that the Marching 100 received a shorter suspension than the ΔΣΘ chapter misses an important difference between the two cases. FAMU is spending more money to pay for additional staffers and chaperones to maintain tight control of MUN 1110 (the marching band class) activities. Extracurricular organizations like sororities don’t warrant that type of financial investment from the university.

The Marching 100, or MUN 1110, is an official FAMU class. It has the same course number that is used by the marching band classes at other State University System of Florida schools such as UF, USF, and FAU.

Students who pursue the B.S. in Music Education with a Concentration in Wind, Piano and Percussion typically take MUN 1110 or the upper-level section MUN 3110 for a total of four semesters. Those who want to become band teachers at K-12 schools need these classes in order to meet basic job requirements. The students who desire to enter masters and doctoral programs in music education need practicums such as as MUN 1110/3110 to qualify for admission.

Core classes that students need to graduate always take priority over extracurricular activities. That’s why FAMU moved with quickness to invest the financial resources necessary to restructure MUN 1110/3110 and make it safer. FAMU has made more operational dollars available to provide additional faculty members to supervise the band class and pay for more chaperones to keep close watch over the students whenever they travel out-of-town.

These changes are part of a complete overhaul of the Marching 100’s authority structure. FAMU no longer permits “section leaders” or “drum majors” to supervise their peers. All official band activities now take place under the direct instruction of faculty and staff.

There is no reason for FAMU to spend that type of money for the purpose of bringing a sorority back to the yard. No one needs to participate in a Greek organization in order to earn a degree. Fraternities and sororities would be safer if FAMU hired dozens of new paid staffers to supervise each individual organization’s step practices, community service projects, and out-of-town trips. But it just isn’t worth the cost.    

Multi-year suspensions are a cheap option to immediately stop the hazing within Greek organizations and purge them of students who refuse to follow the rules.

Core classes like MUN 1110/3110 are worth the money it takes to provide salaried personnel to tightly monitor all of their official activities. Extracurricular organizations do not quality as a similar priority.

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