May 20, 2012
Last Update: 5/18 5:19 pm
Florida A & M University’s band members have been reluctant to speak to the media , especially after 11 members have been charged with felony hazing, and two with misdemeanors.
Travis Roberts, has been a part of the famous Marching 100 for 4 years. He says the culture of hazing has existed a long time within the band.
“This thing didn’t start over five years ago, this has been happening for the past 50 years,” says Roberts.
The famed marching band has been suspended for at 1 year, following the death of drum major Robert Champion. Roberts says the university should put in safeguards to make sure there will never be another Robert Champion.
“Yes we take a suspension, yes we take a hold but what we do within that one year process to make sure these thing do not happen again,” says Roberts.
Some band members say they fear retaliation from other members if they speak out about incidents of hazing within in the band.
“So what you get is what you’ve gotten over the past 6 months. No one speaking and no one is talking. Its kind of hard for us to speak on what happens, why we do what we do, what we do when we are retaliated against,” says Roberts.
The president of FAMU agrees that this culture of hazing has been around for a while.
“This culture that has existed has lived on so long because there has been at least a threat of retaliation if someone have been a victim of hazing,” says Ammons.
Robert Crawford, is a former FAMU band member from back in the 1970s. Crawford says the culture of the band has changed overtime.
“Its a new era, there are laws and rules and regulations, times are different, kids are different,” says Crawford.
Crawford recounted his days when he participated in the band. He says the band practiced for hours to perfect half-time performances, but he’s upset that Robert Champion will never have that chance again.
“The Robert Champion incident really pains me because I have a son. He’s 5 years old and he wants to be a musician and I want him to be a part of the Marching 100. I can’t imagine the pain of losing my son to the organization that I love,” says Crawford.
Although the death of Champion has put a heavy burden on the university, FAMU plans to focus on how to move forward.
“Let’s go in together and thats where would respect the administration more and the faculty and staff more. Let’s go in together, lets all say that we had a hand in it and let’s all fix it,” says Roberts.
Although the band won’t be playing this year, FAMU’s administration says it will give them time to get back to the school’s core mission to educate students.