FAMU Board Creates Independent Hazing Committee
FAMU’s board of trustees on Monday agreed to create the five-member committee, as well as an on-site memorial and scholarship dedicated to band member Robert Champion, who died last year of injuries the Orange County medical examiner has announced were caused by hazing.
Board of trustees member Belinda Shannon was charged with setting up the committee, including establishing the “details of its scope, operation, timelines and expected results,” according to a release from the university.
"The FAMU Anti-Hazing Committee will be forward-looking and will be charged with seeking solutions to hazing," Shannon stated in a release from the university. "It will look at how other institutions addressed hazing problems and examine what has worked. It will also look at how to best get students to resist hazing."
Shannon -- the board's liaison with DKC Public Relations, the firm brought on to handle the Champion situation -- is expected to present an overview of the committee at the board’s February meeting.
The committee will not examine the recent hazing incidents at FAMU or other matters currently under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Champion, a member of the FAMU’s famed Marching 100 band, died hours after the Nov. 19 football game between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando.
"It is important to note that, even as we discuss this plan, our hearts and prayers go out to Mr. Champion's family and others who have been impacted by the events surrounding his death," said Shannon.
Christopher Chestnut, an attorney for Champion’s parents, sent an email to the Associated Press on Monday, after the committee was announced.
“Memorials, scholarships and committees will not bring Robert Champion back, nor will they prevent another student from dying as a result of the culture of hazing in the FAMU marching band,” Chestnut wrote according to the AP. “We hope that the FAMU administration focuses its time and resources on developing substantive strategies that protect its band members from hazing, that is the legacy Robert would have wanted.”