Students and faculty at Florida A&M University have pledged to put an end to the dangerous tradition of hazing which is believed to have caused the death of one student and tarnished the reputation of a program that was once well-respected across the nation.
"We are going to have to unify around honoring the legacy of Robert Champion," said university president, James Ammons.
Hundreds of students gathered Monday night on the Tallahassee, Florida campus for an anti-hazing forum held more than two weeks after Champion's death. The 26-year-old was a drum major in FAMU's prestigious marching band, The Marching 100. Champion died November 19 after performing in a halftime performance at a football game in Orlando, Florida. No cause of death has been released, but police and university officials both suspect Champion's death was caused by hazing.
The practice is considered a rite of passage in sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country; it is also banned by most universities and is a crime in the state of Florida. Ammons told the crowd at FAMU, the university must eliminate this pattern of destructive behavior from the campus.
Everyone at the forum was asked to read and sign an anti-hazing agreement.
"We have to stop it," Ammons said. "We don't have a choice."