FAMU band to remain suspended for 2012-13 academic year
By FAMU Press Office
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Marching “100” band will remain suspended for the 2012-13 academic year, FAMU President James H. Ammons announced May 14th.
The band has been under suspension since November 2011, following the death of Robert Champion, a FAMU student and drum major, after an alleged hazing incident on a band bus in Orlando.
Meeting with the FAMU Board of Trustees, Ammons said that extending the suspension was necessary because of a number of issues, including the recent retirement of the long-time band director, the dismissal of two faculty members and a number of unresolved issues about the operation and regulation of the band. But he added the death of Mr. Champion was paramount in determining the band’s status.
“In making this decision regarding the band’s return, and as a parent, I was heavily influenced by the need to be respectful of Mr. Champion’s family and other alleged victims,” said Ammons. “A young man lost his life and others suffered serious injuries. Earlier this month, charges were announced against 13 people in connection with Mr. Champion’s death. In addition, the FDLE is continuing an investigation into financial operations of the band.
Ammons stressed that the band would return. But he stressed that corrective actions needed to be developed.
“As president, my goal is to implement the best conditions by which we can create a safe environment for teaching, learning and research to take place and to ensure that such safety carries through to all of our student organizations, including the band,” he said.
Ammons said that in recent weeks, he has been meeting with several stakeholder groups, such as the leadership of the FAMU Faculty Senate, the executive committee of the National Alumni Association, members of the Rattler Boosters’ Board of Directors, and the executive leadership in the FAMU Student Government Association. He also received input from the Board of Governors, Chancellor Brogan, the FAMU Board of Trustees as well as other state leaders.
Out of these meetings and communications, Ammons said there were suggestions of guidelines that need to be in place before the band should be reinstated, such as:
• Academic standards to be eligible to participate in the band.
• Length of time an individual is permitted to participate.
• The length of practice time.
• The number of adults accompanying the band on out-of-town trips.
• Enforcing travel procedures.
“The band became iconic because of its commitment to excellence in every aspect of its on-field performance. I agree with the common theme expressed by our constituents, the band must be restructured. There is a limited time-frame between now and the fall in which to adequately implement any recommendations that are adopted for the organizational and managerial restructuring of the band,” he said.
Ammons said FAMU is working with groups on alternative entertainment for the classics and home games. He also said his administration will present a plan for the band’s return and a restructuring of the music department to the Board of Trustees at the board’s June meeting.
Additionally, he indicated he will provide suggested guidelines for new membership intake for all student organizations, which had been suspended for the spring 2012 semester.