Shelby: Twelve former members of the Florida A&M marching band are now facing manslaughter charges for the death of Robert Champion, Jr. Robert was the band’s drum major. He died in November 2011, after a hazing ritual meant to initiate new members known as ‘crossing bus c.’
After a football game, he had to push his way through a band bus filled with fellow students who were punching, kicking and hitting him with drum mallets. Robert suffered internal bleeding and blunt force trauma, and later died at the hospital.
Hazing is when someone is harassed, abused or humiliated in order to become a member of a group. About 1.5 million high school students say that they are victims of hazing every year. And more than half of college students in clubs or organizations say that they have experienced hazing.
Robert’s family hopes the new manslaughter charges send a message of zero tolerance for hazing.
Pam Champion: They’ve murdered my son. So they should be held accountable and, at the same time, this is the opportunity to set the stage, set the example that this won’t be tolerated.
Shelby: Since Robert’s death, Florida A&M has suspended all band activities and adopted a new anti-hazing program.
DiMarcus Jones: Every institution should take that route, basically. Ensuring their students are safe.
Shelby: But critics say more needs to be done to end decades of hazing traditions like the one that killed Robert.
Arneshia Johnson: You can sign all the anti-hazing forms, have all the meetings, but you can’t control what someone’s going to do when they want to do it.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.