FAMU board approves plan in response to hazing death

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The Florida A&M University board of trustees approved a plan on a 9-1 vote Monday to deal with the aftermath of the death of Robert Champion in a hazing incident, reports the News Service of Florida. The plan, by public relations firm DKC, would include creating a blue-ribbon panel to recommend ways to combat hazing and setting up a memorial and a scholarship in honor of Champion, a drum major with the school’s famed “Marching 100” band. Champion died in a hazing incident in Orlando following the annual FAMU-Bethune Cookman football game on Nov. 19. The death, which medical examiners ruled a homicide, sparked a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation that has since expanded into the band’s finances. Trustee Belinda Reed Shannon, who worked closely with DKC to craft the plan, said the blue-ribbon committee would be independent of FAMU and “forward-looking,” considering wider anti-hazing issues. “It will not examine or investigate the circumstances of recent hazing incidents at FAMU,” Shannon said. A FAMU task force aimed at looking into how the band’s social structure might have contributed to Champion’s death was frozen at FDLE’s request. But board member Narayan Persaud, who voted against the plan, said he felt it was still too narrow. “The plan is too simplistic and doesn’t address the culture of hazing on the campus,” Persaud said.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.