Target: Dr. Patricia Green-Powell, Interim Dean
Goal: Help stop hazing by holding Florida A&M University responsible for the death of a student
26-year old Robert Champion was killed during a hazing tradition gone wrong at Florida A&M University. Champion, a drum major, was a part of the school’s marching band, and consented to the hazing tradition of the band. He was brutally beaten by fellow band members while on a charter bus that was stationed outside of the band’s hotel in Orlando. Champion’s family has filed a lawsuit against the university, which has retaliated and stated that the only person responsible for Champion’s death was Champion himself.
Florida A&M University recently stated that the university should not be held responsible for Champion’s death because Champion had violated school law when he signed the anti-hazing pledge. According to the New York Times, the school stated, “No public university or college has a legal duty to protect an adult student from the result of their own decision to participate in a dangerous activity while off-campus and after retiring from university-sponsored events.” The university issued a 23-page file countering the lawsuit filed by Champion’s family. The university ultimately wants the lawsuit to be thrown out of court, and is trying everything to get the lawsuit delayed in the meantime.
Champion’s death was a result of peer pressure, which is so frequent in schools. Although the university may not have killed Champion directly, it should still be responsible for allowing such horrific hazing to occur. The university states that Champion witnessed two other students go through the hazing process, and thus, he must have known the dangers of consenting. Even if Champion was aware of the possible consequences of hazing, the university still has a responsibility to monitor what goes on between students. According to the LA times, the university was asked to suspend the marching band a few days before Champion’s death, but the university chose to ignore the recommendation. The university must be aware of the social pressures, especially in student clubs and organizations.
Champion was old enough to know what he was getting himself into, and may have caused his own death when he consented. But that does not mean that he is the only person responsible. The students who beat him to death have also been charged with felony hazing. The university must own up to the accident that occurred within its authority and aim to prevent future situations by taking responsibility now.
Dear Dr. Patricia Green-Powell,
Florida A&M University must be held responsible for not taking any action to halt the hazing tradition at the school. The death of 26-year old, drum major Robert Champion was a horrific tragedy that might have been prevented if the university was more adamant about the hazing situation. In addition, blaming the deceased Champion for his own death is ludicrous and irresponsible.
Blaming Champion will not help crack down the hazing tradition at the university or universities nationwide. Instead, it is placing blame on an innocent young man who was clearly struggling with acceptance within a group of students. If the university does not take responsibility, it is also not acknowledging the problem with hazing.
Social pressures for young adults are very deadly and dangerous. The university should have been more aware of these pressures, and thus, the university is indirectly responsible for the death of Champion and should be accountable.
[Your Name Here]