Hello, I’m Kourtney Spurgeon and today I am analyzing the fatal hazing crisis that struck Florida A&M’s popular marching band just last November.
-Florida A&M was founded in October of 1887 in Tallahassee with less twenty students and two professors. -Thanksto House Bill 133 passed by Representative Gibbs, who later became the school’s second faculty member, the school for African American’s came to existence during a time of extreme racism -The college became an official institute for higher education and gave out the first degrees in 1909-Then in 1953 the school was officially determined a University by Florida legislature-Students at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University played a significant role in social movements such as bus boycotts that led to integrated public transportation and this is where the legacy begins
-The school’s first band was organized in 1892, over a century ago-The name “the marching 100” is based off their success being 100% and today there are over 400 members -The bands popularity and talent gave them the opportunity to perform at a large-scale during Super Bowl halftime shows, presidential inaugurations, and award shows such as the Grammy’s-Being a member of the band is considered a huge honor and to many the position holds more weight than being a star player on the football team.
-Unfortunately being a band member is not always glamourousAccording to a statement by the University of Florida, seven official instances of hazing by band members have been reported -. In 1998, Ivery Luckey was hospitalized after being severely beaten with a paddle and then only a few years later Marcus Parker was also hospitalized due to the same cause-Many believe the hazing rituals are the result of needing to feel a deeper bond to an organization-This begs the question: should authorities or organization leaders be responsible for protecting their students and members? After the hazing crisis that resulted in a loss of life, Florida A&M found themselves asking just that
Robert Champion, twenty-six year old drum major and candidate for a chief position, stepped on a charter bus after playing at a football to go through the ritual of “crossing bus C.” This ritual was performed as an initiation for new members, as a way of gaining respect or even as a punishment for making a mistake during a performance-A blanket was place over Champion’s head as he was repeatedly beaten-He was found unconscious and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after
-The university responded not by a statement from the president or the band director but rather from the hired attorneys who stated that Champion was responsible for his own actions. They said “Robert Champion knew of the dangers of hazing but decided to submit himself tot the brutal ritual nonetheless.” -Without any apology or acknowledgement of those hurt by the situation, the lawyer’s ended the response by stating if the school were to lose the lawsuit issued by Champions’s parents then taxpayers would be held financially responsible for the “imprudent, avoidable and tragic” decision that Champion made
All major news outlets have followed the story and continue to do so as it is still unresolved today -Reports are fairly neutral and include statements on the universities behalf as well as Champion’s parents and rarely include personal opinionThis is not the case in the response of F.A.M.U’s stakeholders
I recommend that the new president of Florida A&M first apologize to Champion’s loved ones, the band, the students, and all those effected by the incident for any wrong doing on the universities behalf -I would then offer compensation for Champion’s parents and attempt settle any pending lawsuits out of court-Then I would put forth strict punishment, tsuch as fines, expulsion or legal ramifications for those caught participating in hazing and then begin a leadership training course for the staff at Florida A&M to reinstate a culture of honesty and integrity -Last but not least, I would hire an outstanding agency, such as Lindsey+Asp to implement a PR campaign to win back the trust and affection of Florida A&M’s stakeholders -With time, consistent leadership and ethical behavior I believe F.A.M.U can regain the positive image they once had
Spurgeon -FAMU crisis analysis
Robert Champion 1985 - 2011
HISTORY• Founded in October, 1887 in Tallahassee• House Bill 133• 1909 - Institute for higher education• 1953 - Determined a university• Students played large role in racial, social movements
MARCHING “100”• Established over a century ago• 420 members• Large-scale performances • NFL Super Bowl halftime shows • White House • Grammy’s• Membership equivalent to being a star athlete
HAZING• Seven “official” hazing instances reported• 1998 - Ivery Luckey hospitalized• 2011 - Marcus Parker hospitalized• Fraternity bond• Who is responsible?
NOVEMBER 19, 2011• Robert Champion, 26-years-old, drum major• “Crossing bus C” • Members must make it through bus while being beaten by fellow band members• Hot seat - blanket placed over him during beating• Reported feeling hot, dizzy and began vomiting• Pronounced dead at the hospital
RESPONSE: FLORIDA A&M• Only from lawyers • He understood danger • Signed document acknowledging illegality & policy violation • Taxpayers will be held financially responsible • “Imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision” • No apology or mention of loved ones
RESPONSE: MEDIA• All major news outlets have interest • CNN • Huffington Post • Fox • ESPN• Continued coverage over a year• Reporting all sides of story• Relatively neutral
RESPONSE: STAKEHOLDERS• Students: disappointed band was suspended• Parents: upset innocent punished & concerned for their child’s well-being• Politicians: dislike break down of university leadership & negative associations with their state
RECOMMENDATIONS• Apology• Compensation for Champion’s parents• Strict anti-hazing policy• United leadership• Brilliant PR campaign