A memorial was held last Tuesday for a Florida A&M student whose death may have been caused by hazing.
Twenty-six-year old drum major, Robert Champion, became ill and died unexpectedly after a football game on Nov. 19. He was found on a bus in Orlando Saturday night after the school’s football team lost the game.
Police said that Champion had been vomiting and complained that he couldn’t breathe on the night he died.
“The investigation indicates that hazing was involved in the events that occurred prior to the 911 call for assistance,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said last Tuesday. “Any death that occurs as the result of hazing is a third degree felony. Anyone who participates in such events can be criminally charged.”
Champion’s cause of death is still considered inconclusive and further testing will be needed to find the exact cause.
As of now, “any and all performances and engagements for bands and other ensembles under the auspices of the Music Department, including the Marching 100 (are suspended,)” FAMU President James Ammons announced Tuesday.
Meanwhile, tenured band director, Julian White was fired four days after the death of Champion.
“Dr. White has been terminated from employment at the university,” said Ammons, referring to White’s “inability to stop hazing in the department of music and in the band.”
Attorney Christopher Chestnut, representing Champion’s family, said they are filing a lawsuit against the school. Chestnut said the family hopes the lawsuit will create more awareness of the dangers surrounding band hazing.
This isn’t the first time FAMU has had issues with hazing. Back in 2001, former student Marcus Parker sustained serious kidney damage after he was severely beaten with a paddle. Parker won $1.8 million after suing the school in 2004.