For the first time in more than fifty years, the Marching “100” did not perform during homecoming or the Florida Classic. The band is still under a standing suspension that will last until the end of the spring semester after the death of drum major Robert Champion in November 2011.
Interim President Larry Robinson said the university’s leadership has spent the past ten months working to end hazing as a whole, not just in the band.
Those efforts were actualized in January when Florida A&M suspended all membership intake for student organizations.
Kenard Stevens, a fourth-year student and member of Boyz of Poison, said his organization has been affected by the new rules because they are not able to have freshmen intake.
“It really takes away from our dance group,” Stevens said. “Most freshmen want to join during their first year to get acclimated and feel a sense of being at home, but now they can’t. I’m just ready for everything to get back to normal.”
When classes began this fall, students were required to attend a mandatory town hall meeting with a panel of hazing experts. Students must sign a pledge to abstain from hazing before they can register for classes for the spring 2013 semester.
“They don’t want to do anything to tarnish the great name of this institution,” said Robinson. “So, it’s a matter of helping them understand better what hazing is, what it isn’t and some of those old traditions that people thought were okay, understanding that those are no longer acceptable.”
Sherona Tennyson, a third-year psychology student, attended one of the anti-hazing meetings this year.
“I think the new rules that are being implemented are good on one hand because this is a very serious matter,” Tennyson said. “No one should ever lose their life because of something like this. On the other hand, it really takes a toll on organizations and dedicated members who love their organizations.”
The search for a new band director continues, and more than 60 people have applied for the special assistant to the president for anti-hazing position that was established. More than 70 applicants are interested in the new music department compliance officer position.
Robinson said, in regards to the Marching “100”, his main priority is to establish the correct conditions to bring the band back as a better representation for the university.
“Safety is one of our number one priorities,” Robinson said. “We don’t want anyone to have to worry about whether or not their sons and daughters have to worry about their safety as opposed to focusing their time and efforts on being the best student that they can.”
Kia Richardson, a fourth-year student, said she cannot wait to see the Marching “100” back on the field.
“It really takes away from the school spirit at different events when they’re not there getting the crowd hyped,” Richardson said. “We really need them back. I’m just praying everything works out.”