FAMU band member Robert Champion’s death as a result of hazing brings up a very serious topic.
Hazing is an initiation process, which involves the harassment, abuse or humiliation of another person. Hazing has been linked to athletics, fraternities and sororities, as well as band membership.
Many proponents of this ritual say hazing bonds those to the particular organization they are seeking membership in. But in Robert Champion’s case, this has led to his early demise.
Champion is not the first to die from hazing and sadly may not be the last.
Two years ago, Prairie View A&M University made national news for the death of 20-year-old Donnie Wade, Jr., a student studying biology at the university. Wade, who was pledging Phi Beta Sigma, died of over-exertion.
In 1994, Michael Davis, a student at Southeast Missouri State University, died as a result of a severe beating he undertook while pledging Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. His beating left him with broken ribs, a lacerated liver and kidney, multiple bruises over his body and internal bleeding in his brain, which ultimately killed him.
Hazing affects more than the people involved. A ripple effect has touched everyone saddened by the death of a young man who died being a part of something he loved – the band.
Mr. and Mrs. Champion, who have lost their only son, are seeking answers. Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University family- dubbed “FAMUly”- is still reeling from news of Champion’s death and updates that hazing may have been involved.
Many may find it hard to end a practice that was rooted in their founding. Whether many organizations like to admit or not, hazing is a big part of many initiation processes across the country in some form or another.
Those who commit acts of abuse against another should take into account the victim at hand. They should also consider their victim’s family and loved ones.
Rober Champion was a human being. He laughed, cried, smiled, dreamed, had great goals he set for himself and looked forward each day to performing on the field with fellow Marching 100 band mates.
Now that he’s gone, he can no longer do these things. So members of organizations must reevaluate their process of accepting new members. Learn the history and find the reason behind why hazing is predominant in the culture of fraternities and sororities.
In African American Greek culture, hazing in the form of physical force is a widely accepted secret practice. One would be very surprised to learn slavery is deeply rooted in the culture of hazing.
Physical abuse was used as a form of discipline during slavery. This extreme form of abuse carried over as a longstanding tradition in African American culture and made its way into Black Greek culture.
The world must learn from Robert Champion’s death. No one must go through extreme means to gain the acceptance of others.
Let Robert Champion’s death not be in vain. Champion, as well others who have fallen victim to this cruel act, should serve as symbols to end hazing.
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