13 FAMU Students Arrested for Punching Drum Major to Death, But It's Useless (VIDEO)

drum majorIt's going to be one of the biggest prosecutions of a college hazing case in the nation's history. Thirteen members of the FAMU marching band were arrested yesterday and charged in the death of Robert Champion, the gay college student who died after running through a hail of fists on a Florida A&M University bus last fall. Prosecutors' decision to go after multiple defendants when they couldn't determine exactly which punch ended Champion's life is a message to hazers everywhere.

Being just "one of the crowd" involved in tradition as old as time itself isn't protection from prosecution anymore. But it's a little early to be sounding the death knell for hazing (although there's plenty of media doing so today). As long as there is a crowd to enact some animalistic torture, there will be people dying to get into that crowd ... and the threat of felony charges won't change that.

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Hazing is sadistic. But it's human nature. People always want something better -- hence the phrase "Keeping up with the Jonses." And so people will always submit to being hazed. Rookies will do the laundry for a whole firehouse full of firefighters. Newbies will strip down naked and run across a field while the football team laughs. Guys like Robert Champion will run through a gauntlet of fists, desperate to be liked, to be accepted, to be "part" of the in crowd.

When Champion's death became public and FAMU fired its marching band director, there was a lot of blame being thrown around. It sounds very much like these 13 guys arrested in Tallahassee this week were sick, vicious men who took advantage of a young man's weakness, his oh-so-human desire to fit in. There's a reason at least two of the 13 are facing felonies. And it's certainly worth noting that Champion was a gay guy at a traditionally black college, a community where homosexuals receive even less support than they typically would in schools with a different racial majority. His vulnerability was upped, and his position as a major on the marching band gave him his chance to find acceptance.

Their prosecution is the logical next step.

And yet, 9 times out of 10 without willing hazees, there is no hazing. People have the power to say no, to walk away, to opt out of running buck naked through a snowstorm or drinking until they pass out simply because they want to be liked. But they do it anyway. They put themselves through unspeakable tortures because they want to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Prosecuting hazers is a means of finding justice for the hazees. It's the appropriate course of action on the legal level, and I'm glad they're doing it for Robert Champion's sake. But it won't stop hazing.

The only thing that can stop hazing for good is for people to decide they don't want to be hazed, that they don't care about being liked or accepted. And who can really say they don't care?

Have you ever been hazed? What were the circumstances? Here's more detail on what's going down at FAMU:

 

Image via zoetnet/Flickr

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