Four Florida A&M University Students Expelled in Connection With Band Member’s Hazing Death

MIAMI, FL—Four Florida A&M University students have been expelled in connection with the hazing death of a drum major in the school band, the Los Angeles Times reported. Although FAMU officials announced the students’ expulsions on Dec. 1, they did not state what offences the students were suspected of committing, specifically.

According to StateImpact Florida, authorities from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) are investigating the hazing-related death of Robert Champion, a 26-year-old drum major with Florida A&M University’s Marching 100. Champion apparently performed with the Marching 100 during the Florida Classic in Orlando on Nov. 19, but was later discovered unconscious on a bus, the LA Times and Orlando Sentinel reported. He was eventually pronounced dead. 

Florida Governor Rick Scott noted, “I think it’s very important that we do a thorough investigation, and I think it’s also important that we review our hazing policies…When things like this happen, you’ve got to make sure in your organization, our universities in this case, that people feel comfortable coming forward, you know, if they see something like this because I don’t want this to ever happen again.”

Florida Statute 1006.63 defines hazing as “any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating under the sanction of a postsecondary institution. “Hazing” includes, but is not limited to, pressuring or coercing the student into violating state or federal law, any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance, or other forced physical activity that could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the student, and also includes any activity that would subject the student to extreme mental stress, such as sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment, or other forced activity that could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the student. Hazing does not include customary athletic events or other similar contests or competitions or any activity or conduct that furthers a legal and legitimate objective.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported that the alleged hazing victim’s family has since filed a notice of intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Tallahassee-based Florida A&M University. The actual negligence lawsuit was expected to be filed within six months time.

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