Monday, November 25, 2013

FAMU strikes blow against culture of hazing with safe Marching 100 season

The culture of hazing that has plagued the FAMU student body for years won’t disappear overnight, but the university scored a critical victory against it during the 2013 marching band season.

FAMU’s Marching 100 is done with its football halftime performance schedule for this school year. There were no reported incidents of hazing.

Former FAMU President James H. Ammons suspended the 100 in November, 2011 following the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion, Jr. According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Champion “willingly participated” in a violent, unauthorized pledging ritual aboard a parked bus after that year’s Florida Classic in Orlando.

At Ammons’s request, the FAMU Board of Trustees approved a new comprehensive Anti-Hazing Plan. It introduced new band regulations that included a four-year cap on the number of years a student can participate in music department bands, a requirement that all band members be enrolled full-time at FAMU, and a ban on practices that are not supervised by music department staff.

Interim FAMU President Larry Robinson, who led the process of developing that Anti-Hazing Plan, lifted the 100’s suspension in June of this year after implementing the tough new measures and hiring Sylvester Young as 100’s new director.

Young, who marched at FAMU under former Director William P. Foster, brought some old school discipline back to a band that had spun completely out-of-control since his days on The Hill. He offered former band students with clean records a chance to try out and make the roster. But such students ultimately made up less than a third of the 2013 band’s membership. At the beginning of the marching season, Young said that approximately 70 percent of the 100’s members were new.

Young also shrunk the band’s to size to about 149 (down from more than 400+ in 2011) and supervised the process of acquiring more chaperones for out-of-town performances.

The fight against the student-led hazing at FAMU isn’t over. But this year’s marching band season shows that FAMU is getting solid results in efforts to increase the safety within its student organizations.

No comments: