Four students at Florida A&M University have been expelled from school in connection with the hazing death of band member and drum major Robert Champion.
Champion collapsed, began shaking, and vomited while on a bus returning from a FAMU football game. The 26-year-old junior’s death has been linked to hazing activities, but no cause of death has been confirmed just yet.
Hazing is apart of the band culture at many universities. Students who want to be apart of the band often go through rigorous physical and emotional challenges before they are accepted as “full” members. Although it’s unclear if Champion was indeed a victim of hazing, his family has vowed to sue the school “to get answers.”
FAMU’s band director Julian White was fired after Champion’s death despite working to eradicate hazing within his band program. Just weeks before Champion’s death, White sent a letter to alumni members of the band imploring them to stop engaging in hazing activities.
“You should not return and look down on people who follow university regulations by not participating in sub-organizations,” White wrote. “This is extremely important and I call on all alumni to assist the band and myself in eradicating all vestiges of hazing in the Marching `100′ band.'”
White is fighting his dismissal from the university, and has turned over documents showing that he suspended several members over the years for hazing, and even informed university police of some of the band members’ illegal activities.
Despite the silence surrounding Champion’s death, University President James Ammons sent a letter to the Board of Trustees informing them of the expulsion of four students from the university and another 30 students from the band.
The investigation is ongoing and police are urging anyone who knows anything about Robert Champion’s death to come forward.