Former band member talks about hazing in FAMU band

by: Tom Regan Updated:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A former Florida A&M University student said she quit the band and left the school during her freshman year as the result of what she called degrading treatment from members of the FAMU marching band.

"I couldn't take the pain and humiliation anymore from them, cause I knew it was going to get worse at some point," the 19-year-old woman, who didn't want to be identified, told Channel 2's Tom Regan.

The former student said while training for the band, she and other freshman had to wear heavy black uniforms and run in the Florida sun.

"It was getting that bad, to the point where I was going to pass out in the heat," she said. "I couldn't take it anymore, and they seemed like they didn't care."

The young woman also spoke with a friend in the band who described hazing incidents on band trips.

"They went on one trip, someone turned the lights off in the room and they hit everyone with a paddle several times. For what? And he quit the band because of that."

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The former student told Regan band members were reluctant to report hazing injuries for fear of retaliation. She said cried when she learned of the hazing death of her friend, 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion. Champion died after he was beaten on-board a band bus during a trip to Orlando. The woman said a friend described the hazing Champion endured as "Crossing Bus C."

"The goal is to get to the back of the bus while walking backwards and getting hit," she said. "That's what he told me the ritual was that killed (Champion)."

Police have made no arrests in Champion's death. This week, the drum major's parents said they intended to sue Florida A&M for negligence in their son's death.

The former student said Champion tried to talk her out of her decision to leave the FAMU marching band.

"He tried to convince me to come back, 'Like don't worry about it, you're gonna be fine.' Me and a friend were talking on the phone and we said one day, messing with the wrong person, something bad is going to happen. And a year later, it happened. It's a tragedy. He was such a nice person."

The student told Regan she is planning to enroll in another college.


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