Nov 28, 2011

After taking over as band director from the legendary Dr. William P. Foster in 1998, no one ever thought that Dr. Julian White's illustrious 22 year career with the FAMU Marching 100 would possibly end because of scandal. On Wednesday, November 23rd, the president of FAMU fired White after the death of band member, Robert Champion, due to alleged hazing actvities.

Champion was a 26-year-old from Atlanta who was slated to become the next head drum major. It is being reported that he died during what some have said was a ritual called “Crossing the C Bus.”

Dr. White, who has been a strong advocate against hazing, has refused to go quietly and through his attorney , Chuck Hobbs, has insisted on getting his job back. In a letter addressed to President Ammons, Hobbs has insisted that White be reinstated due to the fact that he was a strong advocate against hazing and that it was his superiors' failings that led to the death of Robert Champion and not his.

Here's what Hobbs wrote, "Dr. White has been at the vanguard of implementing measures to eliminate hazing within the Marching 100 over the past 22 years. We also believe that the evidence will show that Dr. White has often been a man on a solo mission in his best efforts to root out the practice of hazing."

“From an administrative standpoint, hazing within the Marching 100 has often been met with reckless indifference by White’s superior officers, who often ignored his requests for assistance, or who privately lauded his decisions to suspend members from the band for hazing while failing to ensure that hazers were either charged with applicable criminal offenses or expelled as students from the university,” Hobbs wrote.

“Even with respect to Dr. White’s suspension of 26 suspected hazers for the Florida Classic, the fact that disciplinary proceedings did not begin from a University level until after Mr. Champion’s tragic death could be considered a subsequent remedial measure intended to mitigate the fact that had decisive senior level action been taken earlier - in the form of suspending the band prior to the Florida Classic - it is possible that Mr. Champion would still be alive,” the letter stated.

Hobbs continues to insinuate that perhaps one of the major reasons why nothing ever happened to the students was because of financial reasons, “What makes this even more troubling is the fact that the appearance of financial gain - the Florida Classic is a major money maker for the University, and the Marching 100 is a key feature attraction - may have impacted whether Dr. White’s superiors chose not to suspend the band or Dr. White following his disclosure and suspension from the band individuals implicated in the post homecoming hazing activities,” the lawyer wrote.

With the family of Robert Champion now suing the university, this is going to be a very long stretch for my alma mater.



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