FAMU holds off on dismissals of band leader, 4 students
Florida A&M University's longtime band director Julian E. White had been dismissed after a hazing-related death.
December 7th, 2011
04:12 PM ET

FAMU holds off on dismissals of band leader, 4 students

Florida A&M University has put on hold its move to dismiss its band director while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the death of a who drummer died of an apparent hazing-related death, the school said Wednesday.

The school said that band director Julian E. White was placed on administrative leave with pay on Monday. He will remain on paid leave until the FDLE completes their investigation into the incident. The school also rescinded the dismissal of four students who were disciplined as a result of the death.

“Consistent with the commitment of the FAMU Board of Trustees and President (James) Ammons to be fully cooperative, we are awaiting the outcome of the investigation before any personnel or disciplinary actions are taken,” said FAMU Spokesperson Sharon P. Saunders. “We are honoring the recommendations of not only FDLE, but the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Board of Governors as we await the completion of their investigations.”

Julian E. White was dismissed from his position four days after the death of band member Robert Champion.  The school said they based the initial dismissal decision on White's "alleged misconduct and/or incompetence" relating to the hazing-related death.

Champion, 26, "reportedly threw up in the parking lot and started complaining of not being able to breathe," the sheriff's office said in a release. Champion was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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“This is a step in the right direction, but we still believe that administrative leave with pay is tantamount to a form of discipline," attorney Chuck Hobbes said. "We will continue exploring all legal options to have Dr. White fully reinstated as director of bands and to his position as full tenured professor and chair of the FAMU Department of Music.”

FAMU band leader fights to keep job

White has led the 420-member band since 1998.

“This continues to be a sad time for the entire FAMU community, but each day, I see that Robert Champion’s death was not in vain," White said. "A dialogue of healing has begun, and I’m encouraged to see students, faculty, alumni, administrators and trustees taking steps to get rid of hazing.

"Robert’s parents are starting a hazing hotline. Today I joined ministers and community members at a prayer service for the Champion family, the Marching 100, and for the FAMU Nation. I ask people to continue praying for the Champions and for the Rattler Nation, and I look forward to working with these groups to eradicate hazing on and off campuses throughout the country — in Robert’s name.”

soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. banasy©

    No, not race card, anyone.
    The one using it is *you*.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. PAPilot

    It is illegal to fire a tenured professor unless and until a determination of cause is made through the proper authorities. The university committed a crime by "firing" him without going through that process. The President should be brought up on charges IMMEDIATELY for what they did. It was illegal, immoral, and an insult to the black community. He was only fired because of the color of his skin. He didn't have anything to do with the hazing incident, and the university knows it. Racism is alive and well in the south.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      He's in a historically black college, dodo-head.
      As to Dr. White's responsibility: "In the weeks before Champion's death, White suspended 26 band members for hazing. On Nov. 17 — just two days before Champion died — he sent a letter to alumni, saying....I call on all alumni to assist the band and myself in eradicating all vestiges of hazing in the Marching '100' band.'" USA Today, 11/30/2011.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • TLH_Rez

      I do agree he was fired without going through the proper process. However, he was fired by the black president of FAMU – how is this "racist"? Stupid, yes; but racist? hmmmm.......

      December 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • PRMil-O

      PAPilot: really? because of race? Did you not hear about the scandal in Penn State? Am I colorblind or are Paterno and the School President black as well so that's why they got fired? Stop jumping into such irrational conclusions so quickly...instead of looking at it from a black man's point of view (I'm assuming you're black) and look at the situation from a legal point of view aka a realistic point of view. Stay thirsty my friends.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pattysboi

      The school did NOT "commit a crime" by rightfully firing the director. Get a clue.

      December 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. joe smoth

    C.Y.A. all the way.... FAMU is great at it.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Migsman

    Talk to Tebow. God Bless the Champion family.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • leslyn

      "Talk to Tebow"?? Is he God now?

      December 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Hey leslyn – stop commenting, please. You've not contributed once to this discussion.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Migsman

      I apologize. I posted another comment about Tebow and it auto filled on this discussion.
      My only comment was supposed to be: God Bless the Champion family. All user comments should be in favor of preventing another tragedy and prayers for the family. Tebow, being a Florida Native (as I am) surely prayed for healing for the family. Did you?

      December 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Migsman

    1 love

    December 7, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Hazing? Uh..like what did they do? Like take a freshman and like require them to be chained to an alligator for 24 hours or somerthing?

    December 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    then they would just have to haze a new one in...
    now the hazeing will just go underground..

    December 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |

    As a mother, an active Sorority member, and an alumni of Florida A&M I must say, this situation has been hurtful on so many levels. I could not imagine, nor would I want to imagine, what these parents must be feeling to lose a child. I've heard so many comments in person, and read many comments online in reference to the fact that this young was "26 years old and should have known better". If we're being honest, at some point, in all of our lives, everyone has done something stupid in order to be accepted. I doubt that any of us suspected that we could or would be killed in the process.

    As a member of a sorority, I'm disgusted to think that anyone would minimize the true purpose of our organizations. We were founded for the purpose of serving our communities and develop scholarships to better mankind, not hurt them.

    As an alumni of FAMU, I remember hearing of students who were hazed to join sororities, fraternities, the band, and the football team. Upon expressing my interest in joining our sorority, I made it very clear, that had no intentions of being hit or humliliated. As a result of my very vocal stand, I chose not to pledge while in college but in the grad chapter instead. We have workshops every year to reiterate the national chapter's policy of anti-hazing.

    Dr. White may be the "scapegoat" as referred to in the earlier post but at the end of the day, it happened on his watch. Unfortunately, as a leader of any organization, you have to take the good with the bad. I don't necessarily agree with him being fired as a "tenured professor", but I do believe he should be fired from being the band director. Those roles are totally separate and should be treated as such. Tenured professors rarely add significant revenue to the school, at FAMU, the Marching 100 does. I say, hit them where it counts the most, in the pockets. This action penalizes not only Dr. White but the university administration as a whole. I'm not so sure that President Ammons is accepting his responsibility as the university leader.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |

    The interesting parallel to this story is the Michael Jackson death. Michael was "50" and we all know that he contributed to his own death because of his addictions to drugs yet Conrad Murray was just convicted of manslaughter. The last time I checked, killing someone is still a crime even if they did participate on their own free will.

    December 7, 2011 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rick

    The college system reinforces "secret societies" and in that environment you will see abuse of privilege. Time to dismantle the traditional european style college system with all this greek frat style silliness and start anew.

    December 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
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