Before a horrifying hazing tradition resulted in a student's death and a national spotlight shifted upon Florida A&M University, the Orlando Sentinel reports that the school's dean of students had pushed for the long-term suspension of the school's famed marching band over concerns about hazing issues.
Robert Champion, a drum major for the school's marching band, the Marching 100, was brutally beaten to death on a bus by his marching band peers, as part of a hazing tradition. He died shortly after the beating of internal injuries and hemorrhaging.
Three days before Champion's death, a meeting was held on Nov. 16 during which FAMU Dean Henry Kirby and Calvin Ross, the former chief of FAMU's police department gave their recommendations that the marching band be suspended and barred from the upcoming rival game on Nov. 19.
According to the Orlando Sentinel:
Former band director Julian White quashed the idea when it came forward during a brief staff meeting Nov. 16, saying the band was a main feature of the annual fundraising event, said Calvin Ross, who recently retired from the FAMU police department. A spokeswoman for White, however, said the former band director actually agreed with the recommendation, but no one at the meeting had authority to suspend the band.
Kirby had urged administrators at FAMU handle the suspension of the band the way the school handled the suspension of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity chapter after five members beat a pledge with wooden canes.
According to the Sentinel, there have been a series of hazing allegations at FAMU that have arisen or are now understood to have been reported by students before Champion's death.