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Florida A&M Disregarded State Hazing Laws Prior to Hazing Death

More than a year after the tragic hazing death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion’s death, a report from Florida state officials claims that the school did not abide by state hazing laws for years prior to Champion’s death. The Florida Board of Governors’ 32-page report detailed the school’s inability to prevent or counterattack hazing, specifically making note of a lack of communication between university officials and the area police department. The 17-member Board of Governors oversees the State University System of Florida, and as such could impose serious sanctions against FAMU for violations of state regulations.

“The problems that have permeated FAMU for more than a year were a direct result of action or inaction by FAMU personnel, who either had not developed adequate policies or simply did not enforce policies that were in place,” State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan said in a memo released on Friday.

FAMU was placed on one year probation period earlier this month by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Should the university falter it could lose its accreditation, meaning that the schools 13,000 plus students could lose eligibility for federal financial aid. Additionally, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has investigated believed financial irregularities within the marching band.

Borgan suggested that the Board of Governors become directly involved with making sure that FAMU officials comply with state laws. FAMU interim president Larry Robbinson said that the school would review the board’s report and look to improve its stance against hazing, according to the Associated Press. Robinson replaced former president James H. Ammons, who stepped down amidst the scandal surrounding Champion’s death.

Robert Champion’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the school, claiming that the university failed to act against the hazing. FAMU officials filed a request that the case be thrown out on the basis that Champion willingly took part in the acts, but was denied by the case judge. The family also turned down a reported $300,000 settlement from FAMU last month.

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