Target: Florida A&M University
Goal: Apologize to hazing victim’s family for blaming victim and refusing to help compensate for medical and funeral expenses
In November 2011, a student at Florida A&M University, Robert Champion, was the victim of a brutal hazing incident. Champion was beaten to death by his fellow members of the school’s marching band. Recently, the university claimed it was not responsible for Champion’s death, and that Champion himself is the guilty party. Champion’s family is seeking compensation for medical care and funeral arrangements, and it is appalling that the university refuses to help this grieving family.
Champion was on a bus chartered by the university when he was beaten in the hazing ritual. The ritual was well-known at the university, yet all the university did to stop it was require all students to sign an agreement that showed they understood the dangers of hazing. The university now claims that Champion consented to being brutally beaten by not reporting the hazing. The basis of the claim is that by making no recorded action to stop this established tradition, Champion is just as guilty as the band members who beat him to death.
Florida A&M University’s treatment of Champion’s family has been insensitive and appalling. The hazing culture at the university, and other universities across the country, will not end solely by the students’ efforts. According to the Champion family attorney, Christopher Chestnut, ‘part of the reason the culture still exists is because the blame has always been on anyone except for the institution, by the institution. FAMU is always blaming other people, never taking responsibility.’ The university has a responsibility to help stop hazing traditions, and part of this responsibility is helping the victims of hazing and their families. Florida A&M University has fallen short of this responsibility in how it has treated the Champion family, and needs to apologize to the family for this treatment.
Dear Florida A&M University:
When a student was killed as a result of a hazing ritual, you should have taken responsibility and helped the victim’s family. However, in the case of Robert Champion, you claimed Champion was responsible for his own death and the university would do nothing. This is insensitive to the victim’s family and morally wrong.
I ask you to apologize to the Champion family for the insensitive treatment you have given them. The responsibility for ending hazing culture cannot lie solely with the students. Your university must do more than have the students sign an agreement to end it. You have a responsibility to take stronger action to end hazing, and this will start with apologizing to the Champion family.
[Your Name Here]