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It has been a year and a half since Robert Champion, a Florida A&M University drum major, died after being severely beaten in a hazing ritual. Within that time over a dozen of the students who participated in the hazing were charged—some facing up to 15 years in prison, Champion’s family sued the university, the Marching 100 was suspended, and band director, Dr. Julian White, retired. Widespread news of the hazing incident also resulted in a drop in enrollment, the president’s stepping down, and severe financial loss for the institution. Thus, the road to recovery has been a long one for the band and the school, but there seems to be a light shining at the end of the tunnel.
Within the last few weeks, a video of the FAMU Music Department has made its rounds making people wonder if the band is coming back. The video was part of “Working Together to Stop Hazing,” a recruitment and outreach tour targeting high school students in South Florida. The video not only showcases the band’s musical expertise, but also sheds light on the positive aspects of FAMU that mainstream media hasn’t touched on since the hazing incident. Various students in the music department extol the virtues of an education at the university and remind viewers that FAMU is still committed to “Excellence with Caring” (the school’s motto) by ending hazing and focusing on the development of brilliant and successful people. Here’s hoping that this is truly a sign of recovery for FAMU.
Check out the video of FAMU’s Music Department old school and contemporary music and discussing the core values of the school.