Julian White, Florida A&M University's former band director, says he warned the university about hazing among members of the marching band. His warnings went ignored, however, and a student's life was lost.
As we reported last week, FAMU drum major Robert Champion was found dead following a performance at a university football game. Champion had been vomitting and complained he couldn't breathe before becoming unconscious. An investigation was launched after it was suspected that Champion's death was the result of hazing. Now, former band director White has stepped forward, saying he warned the university about hazing on campus, but his warnings were just ignored.
AP reports that White, 71, suspended 26 band members for hazing two weeks before Champion's death -- a move that infuriated some parents who believed the move was similar to suspending star football players.
"And so the band members were apprehensive. 'Doc, you think we can go without 19 trombone players?'" said White. "And other folks, 'Doc, do you thing you can do it without them?' My comment was, it doesn't matter, I am not going to sacrifice the performance for the principle."
Less than a week after Champion's death, White was given the choice of resignation or termination.
"I walked into [FAMU President James Ammons] office and he said, 'Doc, I don't know any other way to put it, this is it for you,'" White recounted. "He said 'you can resign or you can be terminated.'"
Hazing, unfortunately, is a common thing on campuses and in marching bands. The FAMU campus has been the home of some of the worst cases of hazing, including a member suffering kidney damage after being hit with a paddle.