Florida A&M is suffering yet another setback with the death of Marching “100” drum major Robert Champion this past week. Champion’s death, which was ruled by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to potentially be from hazing, has caused many to question the legacy FAMU will leave.
FAMU started its fall 2011 semester with the murder of basketball player Shannon Washington, whose death resulted from domestic violence.
Now students and faculty are mourning another tragedy.
Tomeshia Maultsby, a third-year biology student from Miami, said both students and faculty’s actions have harmed the university’s reputation.
“Incidents that have occurred here at FAMU were incidents committed by students or faculty who represent the university, and that causes FAMU’s reputation to be tarnished,” Maultsby said. “Actions made by students and faculty not only tarnishes our school’s reputation, but Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.”
The university has received much recognition and honor over the years, and was named one of the best universities of 2011 in the Southeast by the Princeton Review.
Bianca Hargrett, a first-year physical therapy student from Orlando, said she is proud of her university, regardless of scandals.
“I chose FAMU mainly because I loved the band,” said Hargrett. “Even though the band and the university are having a rough time, I am still a proud rattler. I’m just shocked with the band for hazing and allegedly killing one of their own. I just pray that the university will do better.”
Breanna Abrey, a first-year nursing student from Tampa, said that even though the hazing isn’t prominent, she suspected it was going on in organizations.
“I just felt that hazing was amongst our campus,” said Abrey. “FAMU’s reputation went from being known as a well-respected university to being a partying and hazing school.”
President Ammons has suspended the marching band from future practices and performances, and dismissed Band Director Julian White. He has also formed a task force to help in the investigation of Champion’s death.
Timothy Rising, a senior political science student from Jacksonville, thinks differently than his fellow Rattlers about FAMU’s reputation.
“There is no doubt that this will take time, but I strongly believe FAMU will prevail,” said Rising. “I believe that FAMU’s reputation is dwindling and withering away unfortunately. It is sad that our beloved university has fallen victim of such acts. However, FAMU has been in existence since Oct. 3, 1887, and we must never forget that. This too we will survive.”