Three days before a drum major from DeKalb County was fatally beaten on a Florida A&M University band bus, the dean of students and university police chief urged top administrators to suspend the school’s famous marching band because of hazing.
Robert Champion died Nov. 19, 2011, after being beaten during a band trip to Orlando.
Henry Kirby, the dean, outlined his recommendation in notes about a meeting held Nov. 16 specifically to discuss hazing in the band. Those notes were in materials obtained through public records requests by various media.
Robert Champion, a graduate of a Southwest DeKalb High School, was beaten on a bus in Orlando on Nov. 19 at the Florida Classic football game. Some band members have said Champion, 26, died after a ritual called “crossing bus C,” in which band members are beaten as they walk the length of the bus.
Thirteen band members face charges, including 11 charged with felony hazing, in Champion’s death.
Administrators at the Nov. 16 meeting included Provost Cynthia Hughes-Harris, Vice President of Student Affairs William Hudson Jr. and retired band director Julian White.
In the meeting, university Police Chief Calvin Ross recommended the band, the Marching 100, be suspended and forbidden from playing in Orlando because of reported hazing.
According to Kirby’s notes, he repeatedly recommended that FAMU “impose the ‘Kappa’ effect” — suspend the band for a long term, as it had done to the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity in 2006. FAMU suspended the fraternity after five members were charged with using wooden canes to beat a pledge in an initiation ritual.
Kirby wrote that White indicated he did not think the entire band should be suspended.
His notes did not mention whether FAMU President James H. Ammons was at the November meeting or knew about it. Kirby wrote that he had assumed the administrators who called the meeting would brief Ammons.
Ammons has said he didn’t know hazing was a serious problem on campus. He suspended the band in November and last month announced it would be off the field for the coming school year as well.
In an interview in May, Champion’s family told the AJC the Marching 100 should be disbanded.
While Kirby has refused to comment about the Nov. 16 meeting, his notes seem to indicate he did not want the band to go to Orlando for the Florida Classic game.
Source: AJC.com | Bo Emerson