FAMU Death is a Sign School Officials Must Do More to Curb Hazing

On November 19, Robert Champion, a member of the Florida A&M University's acclaimed marching band, died after a football game, apparently as a result of hazing. Although the cause of death has not yet been announced, officials at FAMU have pinpointed the death as a result of hazing, expelling four students and removing 30 from the band. Although the type of hazing remains unclear — drinking does not seem to be a factor — it has become clear that hazing is a problem at many schools, one that college officials are only beginning to crack down on now.

In many American universities, hazing is largely a problem with social societies. Fraternities and sororities are notorious for forcing their incoming freshmen, or “pledges,” to go through a series of humiliating and often life-threatening rituals in order to become part of the society. Usually those involve binge-drinking alcohol, as was the case in the deaths of Carson Starkey, a freshman at California Polytechnic Institute in 2009, Arman Patarmian of SUNY Geneseo that same year, and many others. Often these types of deaths are reported as alcohol poisoning or suicide, so it is difficult to count exactly how many have died as a result of hazing.

Hazing doesn't always have to kill someone to be threatening. In May of this year, Yale University banned the fraternity (whose members have included both President Bushes) Delta Kappa Epsilon for conducting a pledging ritual which involved public chanting of misogynist chants such as, “No means yes” in public. Many fraternities and sororities are known for their homophobia and intolerance, and many accusations of racism have come up against them.

In the case of Champion, reports claim he was beaten badly on the bus after the game. The marching band has a history of abuse; a similar event happened only a month earlier, when a FAMU clarinetist's legs were punched so hard her leg broke. It's true that hazing is difficult to identify, let alone stop. But hopefully, at least Champion's death alerts universities to investigate the situations students are being placed in on campus, and pressures officials — or even students — to take some action to stop them.

Photo Credit: Roundup Russy 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Nawal Arjini

Nawal is a junior in high school at Saint Ann's School, in Brooklyn.

MORE FROM

Trump keeps saying he wants to “let Obamacare fail.” How would that happen?

There are several ways the administration could sabotage the law, experts said.

AIDS deaths are almost half of what they were in 2005 — but experts worry Trump could reverse that

Trump's proposed budget cuts could be detrimental for those living with HIV.

OJ Simpson granted parole after nine years in prison

After serving nine years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery, OJ Simpson was granted parole in a unanimous vote on Thursday.

Black Lives Matter activists respond to the police shooting of Justine Damond

“Some white people don’t feel the tragedy until one of them is murdered.”

Capitol police arrest 155 during massive health care protest

Those arrested have been charged with crowding and resisting arrest.

Both sides rally behind John McCain after brain cancer diagnosis

Both sides of the aisle expressed support for the Arizona Republican after announcing aggressive brain cancer.

Trump keeps saying he wants to “let Obamacare fail.” How would that happen?

There are several ways the administration could sabotage the law, experts said.

AIDS deaths are almost half of what they were in 2005 — but experts worry Trump could reverse that

Trump's proposed budget cuts could be detrimental for those living with HIV.

OJ Simpson granted parole after nine years in prison

After serving nine years in prison for a 2007 armed robbery, OJ Simpson was granted parole in a unanimous vote on Thursday.

Black Lives Matter activists respond to the police shooting of Justine Damond

“Some white people don’t feel the tragedy until one of them is murdered.”

Capitol police arrest 155 during massive health care protest

Those arrested have been charged with crowding and resisting arrest.

Both sides rally behind John McCain after brain cancer diagnosis

Both sides of the aisle expressed support for the Arizona Republican after announcing aggressive brain cancer.