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If you have ever been to a Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) football game, everyone knows the best part of the game is halftime. As the saying goes “Halftime is showtime.” 

High-stepping marching bands have been the foundation for HBCU culture since its existence. Every member of the marching band plays an important role, from the drum major all the way down to the auxiliary team (dancers, flag and baton twirlers).

DETAILS: Florida A&M Band Member, Robert Champion, Cause Of Death Revealed

Often referred to as “band geeks,” HBCU band members share bonds similar to those of sororities and fraternities, but has the preparation to share a bond with fellow band members gone too far?

The reports of Robert Champion’s death hit home for me for more than one reason. I mourned the loss of a fellow HBCU student and band member.

As the story developed, I was shocked to find out that the cause of his death was related to hazing incidents from a band related group.

Being a member of the band (dance team member) for three years, I remember my experience was interesting and incredible.

I took a minute to reflect on my first year as a member of the Johnson C. Smith University Marching Band. I remembered how each moment only made me a stronger person in academics and social life.

Then it hit me how could someone be killed for doing something that they loved. Being a member of the band, we were effortlessly disciplined and drilled to show our discipline in everything we did, but hazing I don’t remember being an issue.

I thought long and hard and came to the conclusion that maybe things went a little too far in the FAMU incident. Then I asked myself, could this incident have been avoided?

I put myself in Champion’s shoes for a moment and I wondered how he may have trusted certain people who he shouldn’t have. Similar to any student who wants to be a part of an organization, Champion probably only wanted make friends. 

Students should never be made to feel uncomfortable or unwanted.

Everyone comes to terms with having to be accepted, but is putting another person’s life in danger worth it? Hazing is an unacceptable issue that needs to be addressed before we lose more students.

Being a product of an HBCU is something that the students take pride in. Our predecessors and ancestors fought long and hard to help achieve the goals we are reaching today.

Pointless and senseless acts such as the unfortunate hazing incident with Robert Champion are only going to knock us back 150 years. It’s time we embrace each other and continue to carry out the legacy left for us.

-Sapphira Martin