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Robert Champion, 26

The death of Florida A&M Drum Major Robert Champion has reignited the age-old discussion surrounding hazing and initiation practices amongst college students.  Last week, three members of the FAMU band were charged with hazing and the university continues to be swallowed in controversy with new allegations that of financial mismanagement.  Today the Governor of Florida Rick Scott called for the president of the university, James Ammons, to be suspended.

As a Spelman College Alumna, I have witnessed first hand the culture of hazing.  Life at an HBCU is rich in history and tradition, both good and bad.  Though many students publicly decry hazing, countless students willingly participate in, and perpetuate hazing practices; the issue is indeed complex.  As the conversation continues to build, we asked our  HelloBeautiful HBCU Ambassadors to sound off on how they feel about hazing in 2011.  Check out their responses below.

“I am sad because a mother has lost a son, the Marching 100 has lost a prominent member and Florida A&M has lost a rattler. Then I am angry because of how people are treating the situation. We all want to give our opinions and inputs but at the end of the day a person has lost a life. Then I’m embarrassed because the school I represent and love so much is getting all this attention and not in a positive way. So the question I ask is when is enough; enough.” – Jonesa Rodriguez, Florida A&M University ’13

“The connotations today of hazing are awful, but it does have its benefits and it is supposed to be fun! It is the bonding of sisters and brothers who go through it together. There is no way to totally do away with hazing, but all university students should feel a certain level of security that they are not subject to criminal acts for wanting to be involved an organization.”  – Sarafina Wright, Howard University ’15

“Whether it is bullying, degrading, demeaning, verbal, mental, physical or sexual abuse it is ALL wrong and needs to stop.  This street code of “Stop Snitching” needs to be changed to “Stop Hazing” period!” – Wannette R. Stevens-Fripp, Winston Salem State University ’13

“Many students that have been hazed sometimes never express or talk about it until something tragic happens. No one should wait until there’s a problem occurring to report that some thing is wrong. There have been many horrific stories about hazing, and yet  nothing major has been done to crack down on this illegal act. Have not enough students died and have been traumatized enough to say this is the time to stop? – Lovely Robinson, Bennett College ’14

“I believe that the tasks are tradition and they keep you grounded. You will forever have a bond between yourself and other hazed members, due to your shared experience. It stops people who want to join for the wrong reasons from joining. Many times it makes candidates stronger mentally. If you can submit yourself and work towards a goal now then it shouldn’t be as difficult later in life.  However I do believe there is a limit to hazing and I do believe that there should be a meaningful end result to it. If hazing becomes detrimental to the health and well being of candidates I believe it is unnecessary and it becomes gang mentality instead of a challenge that you can overcome.” – Cydney Murray, Texas Southern University ’15

“Hazing fails as an evaluation tool.  Its climate captures, at best, personality extremes rather than painting a complete picture. It adds useless rigor; despite demonstrations of strength and cunning, the practice often does not illuminate ideals of the organization or talents of its members. To uphold esteem and attract candidates, rigor needs to be redefined.” – Anaia Peddie, Spelman College ’12

What do you think, does hazing have a purpose?

Florida A&M University Drum Major Robert Champion Found Dead, School Suspects Hazing

Do Black Fraternities And Sororities Rely On Violence When Hazing?

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