Showing posts with label hazing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hazing. Show all posts

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fabulous Coach Lines had $5M insurance limit

Back during a 2012 interview with CNN Reporter George Howell, Fabulous Coach Lines President Ray Land defended his business’ actions on the day that FAMU drum major Robert Champion lost his life aboard a vehicle owned by the company. Champion died from injuries he suffered during a 2011 hazing ritual that took place on a Fabulous Coach Lines bus in Orlando, Florida. The Champion family later filed a civil law suit against the company.

“To own and operate a fleet of buses like this, Fabulous Coach Lines maintains a high insurance limit,” Howell reported. “And Ray Land believes that is the reason his business is being targeted. He believes the lawsuit is misguided.”

It now looks like the Champions might have been successful in getting a piece of that “high insurance limit.” Last week, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the Champions had reached a settlement with the bus company. The Champions have declined to release details about the agreement.

According to the records of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Fabulous Coach Lines had a $5 million insurance limit from June 30, 2011 through January 27, 2012. Champion died on November 19, 2011.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Mangum skeptical of claims that hazing news led to FAMU’s enrollment decline

At her recent meeting with the Orlando Sentinel editorial board, FAMU President Elmira Mangum expressed skepticism in response to a suggestion that a 2011 hazing death led to the university’s enrollment decline. She said that the federal financial aid crisis and economic downturn are the biggest reasons that FAMU has fewer students.

The following comes from her interview with the editorial board:

Q: Has the university recovered after the hazing scandal, as it relates to rebounding enrollment numbers?

A: I believe that we have recovered from that, if that is the reason students chose not to come to FAMU, and I'm not really convinced that's the reason why enrollment declined...Much of it had to deal with the availability of financial aid, the economic downturn and people not being able to afford an education....I think many institutions would be challenged if that [hazing] were the reason why students chose not to come, because hazing is a problem in America — and it's a problem on most campuses. The fact that FAMU was highlighted was grave and disappointing, but it's a part of our culture at every college and institution. We do our best to make sure we have a safe environment for our students, and FAMU has done an awful lot, probably more than most colleges.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jarrod Deas sentenced to probation for Champion hazing

On Friday, another defendant in the Robert Champion criminal hazing case took a plea deal to avoid prison.

On Friday, Jarrod Deas, a former drum major in the Marching 100, pled no contest to a felony charge of “hazing causing injury or death" and avoid jail time in the death of Robert Champion.  Following the plea, prosecutors dropped the manslaughter and misdemeanor charges against Deas.

The court sentenced Deas to five years probation and ordered him to complete an anti-hazing class and perform 100 hours of community service.

So far only one of 13 suspects in the case has received jail time.  

Deas is now expected to serve as a prosecution witness against the four remaining defendants in the Champion hazing case.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Baskin receives 51-week jail sentence in Champion hazing death

Yesterday, Jessie Baskin became the first defendant to receive a jail sentence for the 2011 hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion.

According to the Associated Press: Baskin, 22, “was sentenced to 51 weeks in the county jail, five years of probation and 300 hours of community service.” He will also be required to pay a $3,000 fine.

Baskin, who pled no contest to a manslaughter charge, was described by prosecutors as being “most-consistently identified as the most enthusiastic” hazer. The sentence he received is far less than the nine-years that State Attorney Jeff Ashton requested.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Charges dropped charges against former band member in Champion case

Prosecutors have dropped charges against one of the remaining defendants in the hazing death of Robert Champion.   

Henry Nesbitt had faced manslaughter and hazing charges until the state attorney notified the court Friday that they would not pursue prosecution of those alleged crimes, according to Orange County court documents and published reports.
“Henry Nesbitt was the one person who was there who snatched someone’s cellphone and called 911 for Mr. Champion,” Nesbitt’s attorney, Zachary White, said Saturday. “The evidence shows that he wasn’t on the bus at the time when any of the activities were going on.”
White said there was a lack of evidence for prosecutors to move forward with a case against Nesbitt.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

FAMU Department of Music takes anti-hazing, recruitment tour to South Florida

The FAMU Department of Music will journey to South Florida Feb. 21 – 23 to commence the next edition of the “Working Together to Stop Hazing” recruitment and outreach tour.

“This recruitment and anti-hazing tour offers representatives of the university an opportunity to showcase the talent that is being cultivated within FAMU's music department,” said Special Assistant to the President for Anti-Hazing Bryan Smith. “It also reiterates the university’s zero tolerance stance on hazing. We want potential students, their parents, and anyone interested in recommending FAMU as an educational option, to know that our academic programs are high quality and we are dedicated to providing a safe and caring campus environment.”

On Feb. 21, at 6 p.m., the tour will make its first stop at Oakridge High School in Orlando, Fla. On Feb. 22, at 11:30 a.m., the tour will continue at Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach, Fla. and at Myrtle Grove Elementary School in Miami starting at 7:45 p.m. The tour will conclude on Feb. 23, at 3 p.m., at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla. Each tour stop is free and open to students from surrounding high schools and the general public.

Monday, December 23, 2013

FAMU music department holds anti-hazing workshops in Georgia and Illinois

The FAMU Department of Music is continuing to add to its legacy of service and scholarship. On Tuesday, Dec. 17, Shelby Chipman, associate professor of music, led more than 40 students from the department’s chamber ensembles and the Marching “100” to Lithonia, Ga., to present aspiring music students at Miller Grove High School with a workshop on anti-hazing.  The FAMU students also put on a mini-concert .

The anti-hazing workshop was organized by Bryan Smith, special assistant to president for anti-hazing and Deirdre McRoy, department of music compliance officer.

Afterwards, Miller Grove students had the opportunity to audition for scholarships in the FAMU music program. 

From Georgia, the FAMU ensemble traveled to the Midwest to hold more auditions, share the anti-hazing message, and present a concert  for the students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Prep High School in Chicago on Dec. 20.  While in Chicago, the department attended the U.S. Marines Band Concert and participated in the prestigious National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Clinic. The clinic is one of the most attended band and orchestra conferences around the globe, as more than 10,000 musicians and educators attend each year.

Monday, December 09, 2013

New FAMU ΚΑΨ chapter president must provide the strong leadership that Torey didn’t

Back when Torey Alston was the president of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, a number of his fraternity brothers created a national embarrassment for FAMU by making the stupid decision to haze an aspirant.

That led to a seven-year chapter suspension that just ended this summer. On Saturday, Alpha Xi introduced 25 new members.  

The new FAMU ΚΑΨ president must now provide the type of strong leadership that Torey failed to give the chapter during his days as a student.

Former FAMU student Marcus Jones, who attempted to join Alpha Xi while Torey was the chapter president, was paddled with wooden canes and punched during unauthorized rituals.

Jones did not directly accuse Torey of participating in the hazing. But he did mention Torey’s name in an account of the early stage of the pledging process that he told the St. Petersburg Times. Jones' accusations suggest that Torey knew of the chapter’s activities and turned a deaf ear.

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.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marching 100 students must protect band’s future by following rules during Florida Classic

This football season, many FAMU fans could be heard repeating an old saying: “I’m going to the game to see the Marching 100 play.”

There wasn’t much to cheer about this year at Bragg Memorial Stadium, where FAMU lost all five of its home contests. But despite all the disappointment on the gridiron, Rattlers were still able to shout at the visiting opponents and say: “Our band is better than your band!”

That was on display again last Saturday. While FAMU lost 29-21 to the Hornets, Rattlers were able to enjoy a fun halftime show. But unfortunately, FAMU had to settle for winning the battle of the bands by default. The DSU “Approaching Storm” did a 180 turn from its path toward Tallahassee as university officials suspended it in response to hazing allegations.

“It’s a shame that a few people can’t follow the rules and the whole band has to suffer as a result at this time,” Provost Alton Thompson said of the first-ever band suspension in the school’s history.

The struggle against unauthorized pledging rituals goes on. This week, the Marching 100 will share the Florida Classic halftime field with Bethune-Cookman  University (BCU), another historically black university that is also confronting the aftermath of a student death linked to hazing.

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.

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.”

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Codner sentenced to four years of probation for Champion hazing

On Friday, ex-FAMU snare drum player LaSherry Codner became the sixth hazing defendant to take a plea deal in the Robert Champion, Jr. case. Prosecutors dropped a manslaughter charge against her in exchange for her “no contest” plea to felony hazing.

Circuit Judge Marc Lubet sentenced her to four years of probation. She must also serve 100 hours of community service and pass an anti-hazing class.

According to WFTV in Orlando, “Codner, 22, admitted to striking Robert Champion on the back and cheering everyone else on before Champion suffered the fatal blows on a FAMU band bus in November 2011.”

Friday, August 02, 2013

Montford bill alleges “forcing” in Champion’s hazing even though detectives say drum major “willingly participated”

Yesterday, state Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, filed a claims bill (SB 62) that asked the Florida Legislature to pay for the death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion, Jr.. Montford did not state a dollar figure. But Champion’s parents rejected FAMU’s offer of $300,000 in 2012. That was the most the university could pay under the state’s sovereign immunity law.

The text of Montford’s bill reads like it came from the media talking points of Champion’s parents instead of the objective report of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO).

Champion died after a hazing incident aboard a charter bus in Orlando on November 19, 2011. Pamela and Robert Champion, Sr. have repeatedly stated that their son never consented to be hazed. The bill filed by Montford alleges that “the cross-over consisted of forcing Robert Champion, Jr., to run from the front of Bus C to the back while being punched, pummeled, kicked, struck, and pushed by fellow band members and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University students.”

But the OCSO found that Champion volunteered for the violent hazing ritual.

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.”

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ex-head drum major sentenced to probation in hazing homicide

Jonathan Boyce, 26, the former head drum major of the Marching 100, pleaded no contest to a felony hazing charge in the homicide of band member Robert Champion, Jr.

Circuit Judge Marc Lubet sentenced Boyce to five years of probation. Lubet also chose to withhold adjudication, which means that Boyce will not have a conviction on his record.

Boyce’s “no contest” plea was part of a deal he struck with the state attorney’s office of Ninth Judicial District of Florida. Prosecutors agreed to drop the second-degree manslaughter charge against him, which would have carried up to 15 years in prison.

The ex-head drum major said that Champion had requested his permission to go through the “Crossing Bus C” ritual the entire marching season.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

FAMU suspends ΔΣΘ chapter for three years

By the time that the Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta returns to FAMU, the country will be just months away from voting on U.S. President Barack Obama’s replacement.

FAMU officials have suspended the student organization for three years. Young Rattler women who wish to become Deltas will have to wait until June 30, 2016.

Back in February, FAMU placed the Delta chapter on inactive status after receiving a report about an alleged, off-campus hazing incident within the group. The accusations were submitted through FAMU’s anti-hazing website.

Monday, June 10, 2013

FAMU shouldn’t revisit expulsions executed in response to Champion hazing

Last week, two former FAMU drum majors who participated in the hazing of deceased band member Robert Champion were sentenced. Rikki Wills received 12 months of house arrest and five years of probation. Shawn Turner will spend 18 months on house arrest and three years on probation.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Wills was expelled from FAMU three classes shy of earning a degree in criminal justice.” Federal law prevents FAMU from confirming the names of students it dismisses, but The FAMUan reported that the university also expelled Turner.

Wills and Turner have admitted that they assisted Champion as he attempted to “Cross Bus C.” The hazing ritual required him to run through a gauntlet of blows aboard a parked bus and touch the back of the vehicle. They said they tried to keep the attackers away from him in order to help him finish the process.

William Hancock, an attorney for Wills, believes that FAMU should bear more blame than the students who took part in the illegal hazing ritual.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Champion’s parents grasping at straws in their venting against Young, Demings

Attorney Christopher Chestnut fell flat when he tried to smear the work that Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and his deputies did to investigate the hazing death of FAMU drum major Robert Champion, Jr.

Chestnut’s clients, Champion’s mother and father, are now directing a round of venting against Sylvester Young. FAMU just selected Young to rebuild the university band that has been on suspension since Champion died.

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.”

“I just don’t feel like anything has changed,” she told the newspaper. “We’re looking out for the safety of students.”