Florida A&M University

Tony Levell

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - Prosecutors are charging 12 former Florida A&M University band members with manslaughter in the 2011 hazing death of a drum major.
     Ten of the band members had been charged last May with felony hazing for the death of 26-year-old Robert Champion, but prosecutors said Monday they are raising the charges to manslaughter. They also have charged two additional defendants with manslaughter.

Steven Rodriguez / WFSU-FM

Harriet Tubman, best known for helping hundreds of slaves escape the South during the Civil War also played a role as a Union spy.  But she wasn’t an Underground Railroad “Conductor” with just a flash light and dream.  Two of Tubman’s tools for freedom and espionage are now on display at the Florida A and M University Black Archive.

The American Bar Association wants more information from Florida A&M University’s Orlando-based law school on its programs and policies after the Bar’s accreditation arm cited the school for admitting students who aren’t academically prepared. The report also cited FAMU Law for low passage rates on the Bar exam.

 “Consistent with that is a desire to look at the admissions process at the law school to make sure we are admitting students with a reasonable chance of success in law school and on the Bar exam," said FAMU Law School Dean LeRoy Purnell.

FAMU Names Hazing Czar

Jan 18, 2013
Florida A&M Univeristy

Florida A&M University has named a new hazing czar as part of continuing efforts to tamp down hazing in student organizations.

FAMU's  hazing czar will report directly to the university president and work with student groups and organizations on hazing issues on campus. University President Larry Robinson says the job is aimed at helping the university coordinate its anti-hazing efforts and track complaints.

The search for the next director of Florida A&M University’s marching band continues after contract negotiations for the candidate fell through Tuesday.

Florida A&M was all set to announce North Carolina Central band director Jorim Reid as the next director of marching and pep bands, but the deal fell through after the school and Reid failed to reach an agreement on the job requirements in the position. Interim University President Larry Robinson says he believes it’s best for the school to start the search process over again:

A press conference to announce a new band director for Florida A&M University didn’t happen as planned Tuesday. Minutes before the announcement, university officials said they weren’t ready to name a new director because of contract disputes.


It’s the second time in less than five years the school is facing a sanction. This time, the problems stem from the hazing death of a drum major and lax oversight of funds given to the school band for travel. It’s also due to incomplete and fraudulent audits done by the school’s former auditor. In speaking with concerned students, faculty and staff in a hastily called town hall meeting. Interim FAMU President Larry Robinson said the stakes couldn’t be any higher for the troubled school:

Florida A&M University has once again found itself in an uncomfortably familiar spot. The school has been hit with a probation sanction by its accrediting body for the second time in five years. Lynn Hatter reports Wednesday interim University President Larry Robinson met with concerned students, faculty and alumni.

Florida A&M University

Five years ago, Florida A&M found itself  on accreditation probation. The reason? Financial problems and a series of blistering state audits. Now, the university is in a similar place again. Call it a case of really bad déjà vu:

“There’s got to be message here. And the message I think SACS is attempting to send is, we’ve got to get the Florida A&M house in order, and not for the short term, for the long term," said Frank Brogan, Chancellor of the State University System.

R.Benk / WFSU-FM

Monday marked one year since the hazing death of a Florida A&M University drum major. Students and faculty gathered together on the FAMU campus to remember the life of Robert Champion.

About 50 friends, former band mates and university faculty attended the vigil. Student Brandon Cunningham, former president of the school’s Marching 100, recalled the night that former band director Julian White told them the news.

Florida A&M University has offered $300,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from the hazing death of a band drum major. But the family of the drum major is calling the offer “insulting.”

The university made the offer after mediation with the family failed.

Attorney Chris Chestnut, who represents the parents of Robert Champion, the FAMU '"Marching 100" drum major who died last November after being beaten in a hazing ritual, says the university's  $300,000 offer shows it isn't serious about resolving the case.

Ryan Benk / WFSU-FM

About 50 years ago, African Americans were fighting for their civil rights, including the right to vote. And, with early voting underway in Florida, state and local leaders are joining people, like U-S Congressman John Lewis, a Civil rights icon, in encouraging young African American voters to take advantage of the remaining early voting days.

“Fired Up! Ready To Go! Fired Up! Ready to Go! Then, Let’s Vote!”

On a windy day in Tallahassee, U.S. Congressman John Lewis got the students at Florida A and M University “fired up and ready to vote!”

The family of a student molested at Florida A&M University’s lab school by another student says they will file a lawsuit unless FAMU agrees to a million dollar settlement.  The case follows the conviction of 19-year-old Ralph Monroe II who is currently serving a mandatory life sentence for the crime.

The first of 12 former Florida A&M University band members facing felony charges in the hazing death of a drum major has been sentenced to community service and probation after an Orange County judge said he played only a minor role in the hazing death of Robert Champion.

Florida A&M began its life as the State Normal College for Colored Students on October 3, 1887 with 15 students and two instructors. But getting to 125 years old hasn’t been easy for the school. Its student body helped launch the Tallahassee Bus Boycott of the 1950’s and the lunch counter sit-in’s of the 1960’s.

LHatter / WFSU

Students at Sealey Elementary school are being encouraged to “Go For the Gold” this year as the school kicks off its annual reading campaign. More than 200 students packed the cafeteria-turned -auditorium of Sealey Elementary School Monday to hear LeVonne Idlette—a student at the Florida A&M University College of Law who competed in the 100 meter hurdles during the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Florida A&M University is continuing with efforts to educate students about the effects of hazing. Thursday the university suspended classes and held a hazing town hall meeting with a panel of experts.  The meeting coincided with the introduction of a federal bill to impose new penalties on hazing perpetrators.

Erich Martin / WFSU

Florida A&M University’s Rattler Football team played its first home game of the season over the weekend and beat the Hampton University Pirates with a score of 44-20. And the team did so without the school’s famed marching band cheering them on. And longtime fans of Rattler football say it’s just not the same without the band.  

Hip Hop Recording Artist Future performed his hit single “Turn off the Lights” during the halftime show, and the crowd sang along. But reviews of Future’s performance, were mixed.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has concluded its investigation into the finances of the Florida A&M University’s marching band. The investigation was launched following the hazing death of school band drum major Robert Champion last November. The probe found several instances of missing money and duplicate payments to band members and others who traveled with the Marching 100.

In the nine months since Champion death, FAMU has dealt with the arrest and felony charges for 12 former band members, the resignation of the school’s longtime band director and university president, as well as negative publicity. And students like Rance Rutherford say almost everywhere they go, people want to know what’s going on:


Florida A&M University is looking to the future after nine months of negative attention stemming from the hazing death of school band Drum Major Robert Champion. There are also fewer students on campus this year as a result of declining enrollment, but school officials and students are cautiously optimistic that FAMU has turned a corner.

FAMU’s interim president Larry Robinson says he knows the past year has been rough for the school, and he urged students to consider how their actions can be perceived by others.

From the Florida A&M University Press Office:

After months of bad headlines stemming from the hazing death of a band member and subsequent investigations into the school’s finances, Florida A&M University is now experiencing a  steep decline in enrollment. The enrollment drop comes with its share of problems, but  some university officials say it also has a bright side.

Florida A&M University’s events director is facing eight misdemeanor charges for filing fraudulent travel expenses.

FAMU events director Tammy Hamlet is accused of falsifying mileage reports and departure times for trips she took between September 2010 and May 2011. Investigators say she then submitted those reports for reimbursement from the university, resulting in $1,821 worth of fraudulent charges.  Florida Department of Law Enforcement Spokesman Steve Arthur says this investigation is one of many that began after the death of band drum major Robert Champion.

Florida A&M University wants to settle a lawsuit stemming from the hazing death of one of the school band’s drum majors. University trustees voted Thursday to direct their attorney’s to enter a mediation session with the attorneys representing the parents of Robert Champion, who died in November after being beaten in a hazing ritual. Lynn Hatter reports FAMU’s attorney says they want the courts to dismiss the lawsuit.  

A mediation session is required before the case against the university can go to a trial.