Top College News Subscribe to the Newsletter

Champion's no champion

Lifestyles Editor

Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 26, 2012 19:11


The name Robert Champion is now synonymous with the dark, haunting truth of hazing. It has become a constant reminder of what can happen when the human psyche is allowed to make one feel as though they aren’t good enough. Champion’s name will forever be associated with the personal tragedy of feeling unworthy.

Last week, Florida A&M determined that it was not taking the blame in the lawsuit by Champion’s parents. The university insisted that it wasn’t responsible for his death.

FAMU stated that 26-year-old Champion was a “top leader in the band” who should have refused to participate in the ritual.

So who’s to blame for the death of Champion? The answer: Robert Champion and his parents.

When news broke that FAMU wanted the charges dropped against them, the Champions immediately held a press conference declaring that FAMU demoralized their son.

“As a mother, I have to wonder what kind of people are we entrusting our students to,” Pam Champion said. “They clearly didn’t care about my son, who thought the world of this school, who would always promote it and talk it up. Robert did all the right things. The school didn’t do him right.”

I have a problem with that. Pam Champion needs to realize that her son wasn’t an 18-year-old freshman who didn’t know any better. Robert Champion was a near 30-year-old man who was failing school and had no intent to graduate in the near future. As his mother, she should’ve instilled in him the importance of getting his education and that extracurricular activities weren’t a priority.

If Champion had done all the “right things”, he wouldn’t have been killed. As his mother, her job was to upkeep and manage the child she brought into this world – to give him counsel,

Had Champion’s parents been as passionate about him successfully matriculating as they are about finding a scapegoat for their son’s bad decisions, this whole incident could’ve been avoided.

In the Bible, Proverbs 22:6 says that if you train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Had Champion upheld the proper foundation from the start, his entire mindset would’ve been different.

And if they are looking for a  person to blame, let them first point the finger at themselves.

Recommended: Articles that may interest you

12 comments Log in to Comment

Sat Nov 10 2012 23:31
What I find wrong is the way some of the people disagreeing with the opinions stated by Mr.Thompson are so rude and condescending they should be just as if not more ashamed of themselves as they claim Mr. Thompson should be. While I disagree with Mr. Thompson's attempt to prove his point by using questionable assumptions about Mr. Champion's personality I have to agree with the over all premise of the article. Universities have been trying to stop incidences of hazing since the inception of soroties and/or other groups that hold themselves separate from others. Every student knows it is against the rules and being caught may carry dire consequences otherwise such pains wouldn't be taken to conduct these "rituals" in secret. Knowing hazing is happening and being able to stop each instance are two different things. It is impossible to stop something if you don't know when it is going to happen and the best any University can be expected to do is to be vigilant and severely punish those caught "hazing". Unfortunately these students were not caught before the inevitable happened, someone got killed. It is not the fault of the University that students choose to ignore the rules nor should they be held accountable when a student is injured or killed while choosing to break those rules. How his parents can even justify suing the bus company and/or driver is beyond me, possibly their grief is preventing them from thinking logically. While I have the utmost sympathy for their loss and do understand the grief of loosing a child that is no excuse for trying to blame anyone for their son's unfortunate death on anyone but Robert himself and the students that physically participated in the incident. No one forced Robert to join his fellow band members in the hazing (something known to be against the rules) that lead to his death and as such his parents should not try to place blame for his own actions on someone else.
Mon Oct 22 2012 17:46
This is like saying a rapist is not at fault for date raping a girl with low self-esteem, it was her parents' fault.

So it's okay for a group to carry out a dangerous act because if someone dies they must have had it coming?

Thu Oct 11 2012 19:05
AMEN to that! at the age of 18, NOT 27 or 28, you are a legal Adult in the United States of America, which in turn means that if you break laws or university rules and regulations, especially those that have been reviewed and signed by ALL participants (including Robert Champion) then you must suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, Robert's consequence was death. You or your parents can not blame an institution for your GROWN son or daughter that breaks rules;period;point blank!! It is NOT the responsibility of FAMU or the Police to "babysit" grown people it is their responsiblity to have rules and policies in place and to review those policies with the students. For example: when you begin a new job, there are policies that are reviewed and must be signed stating you understand. When those policies are broken, then the employee suffers the consequences "no babysiting allowed!". The Band staff and Administration are not Gods who see all and know all; and from my understanding, Robert and the other individuals that participated, DISRESPECTFULLY went behind Dr. White's, the band staff, and FAMU's back and commited this stupid act that night. You can say what you want but I TOTALLY support FAMU's stance. The law is the law and if any of you break it then you or your "loving parents" are at risk for being in the same situation and the only person that will be to blame is YOU, the person who commits the crime. Sorry folks it's a harsh reality but it is what it is!
JSchool 2004
Fri Sep 28 2012 11:36
PR Student
I think you should be ashamed of yourself. Because you are a former staff writer for the Famuan, I am surprised by your views. It is the writer's right and responsibility to express his opinion. If you disagree, fine. If you would like to present evidence to counter his arguments, even better. Mr. Thompson wrote an opinion piece, it isn't hard news. He did a good job because he elicited reactions from his readers. He caused them to think and respond. If you notice, some commenters agree with him. I agree with the premise of his article, though I disagree with some of the evidence he used.

I think it is safe to assume that you study (ied) PR. You should know that there is a slant and spin that you can put on any event, especially one this big. Just because one person's spin is different than yours, doesn't mean that person or the editors who allowed it to be printed are idiots. Maybe a more effective use of your outrage would be to write a well thought-out rebuttal piece.

Concerned Alumna
Thu Sep 20 2012 16:51
First and foremost, lets get something straight...hazing is NOT only an issue within HBCUs or HBCU bands. It is an issue across universities and colleges across the nation. However, most (emphasis on most) instances occur within sororities and fraternities that very few have heard of, i.e. the hazing deaths at that occured at the PWI (predominantly white institution) in California. Those incidents got no wher NEAR as much publicity as the M100 hazing death. The "HBCU" problem needs to get out of mouths of the people and see that this problem is nation wide not just in HBCU. As a former M100 alumna, I do not at all agree with the way the article was written AT ALL!!! It defames Robert as a person and it was inaccurate to who he was. Robert was a great leader and an overall great person. HOWEVER, face the facts, NO ONE FORCES YOU TO BE HAZED (wish I could say it a thousand times). It is a PERSONAL( say personal a billion times) decision. Forcing someone isn't even logical...if you FORCE someone, you're MORE likely to get caught....DUH!!! I hate that it happened to such a great person, but we all must accept the fact that HE made this decision that had such dire consequences. Getting hazed doesn't get you respect, ESPECIALLY not in the Hundred. I could probably name quite a few who got hazed that got VERY little respect amongst their peers. It gets you a few bruises and few inside perks which can be deemed as senseless and unfortunate. However, thats it, its up to YOU as a person to determine if those perks are worth the risk. So in all, the HAZER and the HAZEE are both responsible and should be accountable accordingly. Universities must work with students to stop the hazing. Majority of the time officials probably have no idea that it exists. Once the students (at HBCUs and PWIs) come together to put a stop to the monstrocity called hazing, thats when it will stop; I hope and pray that one day students will come together and put a stop to this.
07 Rattler Alum
Thu Sep 20 2012 14:25
I feel like this article is right on time. You've taken the words out of a lot of people's mouths and put it on paper. The only reason people are upset is because the truth hurts especially when it's black and white. Champion was a 27 year old undergraduate student who was the LEADER of the band. No one at FAMU made him take that walk. That's like saying that the people charged in his death should be charged with murder and not hazing. Doesn't make much sense, does it? Thank you Roscoe Thompson for finally standing up for FAMU.
Mark Cornelius
Thu Sep 20 2012 09:35
Sorry Roscoe, not buying.

Mr. Champions grades, or participation in the band given said grades are tangential to his death, at best. YOUR university has a culture of hazing, marching bands, particularly at HBCU's ALSO have a culture of hazing. As a member of a BGLO, we are working to combat this culture, because we know that the legal system will hold us responsible when tragedies happen to our initiates.

At the end of the day, there is NOTHING about being in a MARCHING BAND that should result in death. There is nothing about being in a MARCHING BAND that requires a beating. This process has been going on for years, and you will never convince any rational person that the University didn't know.

THAT makes them responsible as well as the individuals who took part in the act.

PR Student
Thu Sep 20 2012 09:18
Let me make this clear to the idiot that wrote this article, and the idiots that allowed it to be printed--you all should be ashamed. As a former staff writer for the Famuan and a Marching 100 member, I am truly awe-stricken by this foolishness. Robert Champion was not failing school, and he had every intention to graduate. Check your facts! You obviously didn't know him, so I wouldn't suggest you presume to pass such judgements. Robert was participating in a decades-old ritual, which got out of hand; his mind or "psyche," as you put it was just fine. You don't have the right to defame this man in his death. Put down your pen and pack up your keyboard--distasteful and disgusting "journalism."
Megan Lee
Wed Sep 19 2012 21:17
At what point does a University take responsibility? Are they responsible for all the other hazing rituals that happened within the Marching 100? When parents send their students off to school, they expect the University to act with the students' well-being in mind. This negligence to what was happening within such an "esteemed" marching band led to this. Champion should have never needed to get on that bus because the University should have stepped in long before.
Wed Sep 19 2012 13:11
I totally agree with Roscoe Thompson. If one volunteers to get his a$$ whipped, he should expect to be injured or killed. FAMU did not force Robert Champion or anyone else to practice bad behavior. I stand firm in my belief that FAMU should not be held liable for the hazing death of Robert Champion. Those involved in the hazing, including Robert Champion, are responsible for his death. The parents need to tone down their rhetoric and stop holding all of these press conferences criticizing FAMU for their son's death. They are quickly losing the few sypathizers that they once had.
Wed Sep 19 2012 11:55
That's....just wrong. His parents are to blame? Really? If the hazing had been properly banned int he first place by the school, none of that would happen. Blaming his parents? You're disgusting.
Wed Sep 19 2012 09:45
how can you say that? how dare you say that? shouldn't you know better than making this kind of allegations? a person is dead and it's his parents' fault? grow up, have you been living in a bubble?!. just the fact that you may have been lucky enough to make it alive through the hazing process does not give you the right to blame one's parents for giving into peer pressure and wanting to belong. Doesn't the Bible also teach you to be compassionate?

You must be logged in to comment on an article. Not already a member? Register now

Log In