Rivals turned allies in the name of hazing


Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman University are joining forces to stop hazing and bullying.

A symposium this weekend during the Florida Blue Florida Classic is an effort to prevent another hazing incident similar to the one that occurred at the event last year.    

On Nov. 19, 2011, FAMU drum major Robert Champion was beaten to death by his fellow band mates in Orlando after the annual football game. The Champion family filed a lawsuit against the school in July. FAMU denied responsibility for the death of Champion in September, claiming he “expressly assumed the risk of the hazing injuries that caused his death.” 

The family has declined the $300,000 settlement FAMU offered Thursday.

The Champion family attorney Chris Chestnut said the offer shows the university is not serious about resolving the case with the family.

“Three hundred thousand dollars is substantively low,” Chestnut told the Associated Press.

According to university officials, the amount is the highest it can offer before asking for a special request from the Florida Legislature. 

FAMU attorney Rick Mitchell released a statement in response to the family’s rejection of the offer. However, when contacted about the settlement, Mitchell declined to comment. 

“FAMU has offered the Champions the absolute maximum amount allowable by law,” Mitchell said in the statement. “Anything more would require a special act approved by the state Legislature. It is our hope that this settlement will be accepted and can in some way help in the healing process for the Champion family and the entire FAMU community.”

The Anti-Bullying and Anti-Hazing Symposium will be held at the Amway Center on Friday at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring Georgetown University professor & MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson.