Florida college band suspended for year over hazing
MIAMI — A Florida university’s celebrated marching band has been suspended until 2013, its president announced Monday, six months after one member was killed and several others wounded in a hazing incident.
Florida A&M University President James Ammons has said the “marching band will remain suspended through the 2012-2013 academic year while the school works to set new rules following the fatal hazing of a band member, Robert Champion”, a school spokeswoman told AFP.
Drum major Robert Champion, 26, was beaten to death on November 19 in what was described as a hazing incident on the band’s bus after a football game.
Authorities said Champion suffered multiple blunt force blows just prior to his death. Trauma to the upper part of his body led to hemorrhaging that caused his death, doctors said.
The incident has brought attention to a troubling trend in recent years in which college hazing rituals have led to death or serious injury.
Ammons’s announcement comes as the university is working to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
“I was heavily influenced by the need to be respectful to Robert Champion’s family as well as the other victims,” Ammons said.
“The band must be restructured, and the limited time frame between now and autumn is not enough time to accomplish that,” he added.
Band director Julian White, who had been with the prestigious band for 40 years, stepped down last week under pressure, local media reported. He was placed on paid administrative leave shortly after the incident.
So far 13 people have been charged in Champion’s death — 11 with hazing resulting in death, a third degree felony that could carry six years in jail. So far, one person has been arrested, police said.