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Hazing update: FAMU band back in action after student's death (+video)

Florida A&M's Marching 100 returns to the field Sunday for the first time since the 2011 death of the band's drum major during a hazing ritual. The tragedy sparked a broad crackdown on hazing on campuses, but the tradition is proving to be hard to eradicate.

By Staff writer / August 31, 2013

Robert Champion, seen here as a drum major in a 2011 file photo, died during a hazing ritual with Florida A&M's marching band. The band is performing again after two years of reorganization.

AP/File

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On Sunday, Sept. 1, Florida A&M’s Marching 100 will make its first appearance since it was suspended, performing in Orlando nearly two years after drum major Robert Champion died there during a hazing ritual on the band’s bus.

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The university’s subsequent measures to prevent hazing – including a new code of conduct, reporting and investigating procedures, and antihazing research – will help ensure that the band “will actually focus on its founding principles of character, academics, leadership, marching and service,” interim President Larry Robinson said in August. “We are fairly confident that we are about to launch a new era and a new understanding and appreciation as to why hazing is not necessary to advance these principles,” he said.

Hazing is so deeply embedded in the culture of a wide range of student organizations that ongoing vigilance will be required to change attitudes and prevent it, antihazing experts say.

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Around the country, efforts are under way to crack down on hazing – sparked in part by Mr. Champion’s death. But hazing incidents continue in both college and high school settings.

• The Towson University cheerleading team, last year’s national champion, was just suspended for this academic year for hazing, the Towerlight campus news site reported Thursday. An appeal is pending.

Florida International University recently suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity temporarily after Facebook discussions about hazing new members prompted the university to investigate.

• Police are investigating members of the Northbridge (Mass.) High School football team on suspicion that they hazed a freshman teammate during a recent practice. They are accused of pressuring him to drink from a jug of urine after failing to complete a physical task.

• Five student athletes at Plano (Ill.) High School faced criminal charges this week stemming from alleged sexual assault of a fellow athlete in a locker room after practice in February. The principal sent a letter to parents outlining new training and safety procedures and a student safety phone line.

• An ongoing civil lawsuit in Des Plaines, Ill., claims that members of Maine West High School sports teams were hazed and sexually assaulted -- and that school officials who knew about it did not stop the attacks. Two coaches were fired, and one of them is facing criminal charges for hazing and failing to report abuse, according to various news reports.

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