Can FAMU emerge from the ‘haze’?

When the recent reports surfaced about Torque Dance Team’s alleged hazing during the Labor Day holiday, all I could do was groan. Less than one year after the tragic death of Robert Champion, more students continue risking their lives for their organizations. Florida A&M is slowly shifting from a prestigious institution to a mere tabloid fodder. Get it together, people! If we can’t straighten up for ourselves we should do it for the sake of the university.

Recently, I spoke with Professor Lindsey Sarjeant, director of jazz studies and member of the band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi. We discussed the hazing allegations at FAMU, and he revealed hazing served in a different capacity than it serves today.

“We didn’t have hazing in the same manner,” said Sarjeant. “The only thing you were forced to do was devote time and servitude to your organization.”

We often make tradition an excuse for hazing. However, “The College of Love and Charity” achieved fame instead of infamy in years past.  

I’m all for prospective members of elect groups memorizing history and information while going through some sort of process. But on the other hand, it pains me to no end that adults cannot make sound decisions regarding their own well being. Students engage in hazing activities routinely but people are missing the bigger picture.

Professional MBA student Najee Sanders, from Teaneck, N.J. who is also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. said, “People need to realize there is more to life than FAMU…They are so willing to go through something for nothing. Hazing does not make any organization better.”

Clearly, certain groups missed the memo.

It was recently announced that there will be new rules regarding organization intake and new membership.  Marvin Green, Director of Student Activities, is mandating that all organization members sign pledges to end hazing. In my opinion, this won’t change a thing.  

Students must take their own personal stand about what they will and will not allow and stick to it. Some students spoke out against hazing after agreeing to participate in these rituals. We all want to protect our self-interests and be a part of something greater than ourselves, but at what cost?

Kiersten Graham, a third-year English student from Tallahassee, spoke candidly about hazing.

“I feel those who chose to participate have self-esteem issues,” said Graham. “Belittling or harming yourself and values just to be a part of something is stupid.”

I concur. FAMU’s students should learn to stop taking themselves so seriously. If we focus on academics just as much as extra- curricular activities and revive the Rattler Spirit, maybe we can go one week without being in a negative CNN headline.