“Someone died, so I don’t care about the band’s absence,” Gionni Crawford, an incoming freshmen student said.
Robert Champion’s death had a huge impact on the 2011-2012 school year. Media reports were filled with hazing analyses, listing of Champion’s injuries, and then the arrests of 13 Marching “100” members.
Graduating high school students like Crawford watched as one of the nation’s top HBCUs endured the tragedy and criticism of Champion’s death.
Crawford ultimately decided to attend FAMU as planned. Crawford said that he had heard the university’s campus environment is like a family, and that stood out to him.
“Why would they do family like that? It scared me,” said Crawford, a Detroit native.
Crawford said he wouldn’t allow what happened to Champion, happen to anyone.
“There should be a huge initiative with the student body. Get rid of people that are not here to do good,” Crawford said.
Vincent Cameron, an incoming freshmen student from Jacksonville, said that he also hesitated before deciding to attend FAMU over Bethune-Cookman University, another HBCU in Florida.
Cameron said FAMU has been a tradition for his family, and the scandal didn’t bother him much.
The media’s attention on FAMU did not seem fair to Cameron. He said the obsession with the Robert Champion case is “Because we’re a prominent university. ‘Sportscenter’ doesn’t even show us,” he said.
The university’s decision to suspend the band for one year also didn’t seem fair to the incoming freshman.
“Single out the ones who did it,” Cameron said.
To Crawford, however, the band’s suspension meant that FAMU was taking responsibility. Crawford said that similar incidents happen across the nation, and it could happen again.
“The University is looking out for future students,” Crawford said.
Current band students are also being ‘looked out’ for. According to the dean of arts and sciences Ralph Turner, the band’s students won’t have to worry about their scholarships being “on suspension.”
“They are to receive scholarship amounts and elective scholarship according to whatever plans were made prior to the hazing incident,” Turner said.
Turner does not know if band scholarships were offered this year, but he said that could be a possibility.
Turner said that interested students who hesitate at becoming a rattler, are coming to the FAMU “for a good education, and to be well rounded, and to gain other experiences that would be within his or her interest,”
“I would say that Florida A&M University is a multi-faceted university, and being so-it has many things to look at and be proud of,” Turner said.
“Look at Florida A&M University in its totality. Let us work together as a team to promote high ethics and professional values.”
Cameron, a fourth generation rattler, said that students shouldn’t “let one tragedy change your opinion,”
“You have to experience it for yourself.”