Dr. Boyce: Why the FAMU Hazing Incidents Make Me So Angry

by Dr. Boyce Watkins – Your Black WorldScholarship in Action

Some of you saw the stories about the recent hazing incidents that took place at Florida A&M University.  I love the institution, and most of the FAMU alums I know have grown into outstanding citizens.  The university is clearly second to none.

But after hearing about the death of Robert Champion and the second set of hazing arrests involving another student, Bria Hunter, any rational person can clearly see that FAMU has a serious problem.  Beyond the significant financial setbacks the university will have to endure over this senseless incident, there’s the part of you who wants to ask these kids, “What in the hell are you thinking about?”

Don’t get me wrong, we all did dumb things in college.  I’ve been teaching on college campuses for nearly 20 years, and I’ve seen the worst  of the worst.  But there is a time when all of us have to smack our kids upside the head and let them know that college is a place for LEARNING, not engaging in a bunch of random, worthless activities that can only serve to destroy your future.

College is not a place to drink until you puke every weekend. It’s not a place where you spend so much time with your frat brothers that you walk out the door at the age of 26.  It’s not a place where you do things that might put you in a jail cell.  It’s a place to build a future for yourself and your family and learn how to become a productive member of a community that is struggling in nearly every way.

My position on hazing is simple:  If  you find yourself being hazed, you should report the incident to the police…..period. I don’t give a damn about traditions, rules, stigmas, codes of silence or any of that other crap that has our kids focusing on things that don’t matter.  College is not a place where anyone should have the right to threaten your life or your health, and it’s also not the place where you should be preoccupied with nonsense.

It’s time that we all grow up and realize what a college education is all about.  Countless 18-year olds with infinite potential have had their lives ruined by being introduced to a set of self-destructive habits the minute they walk through the campus door.   Many are turned into alcoholics instead of scholars, find their way to every venereal disease in the book, and even end up beaten, hospitalized or arrested before they reach graduation.

When those kids come through the campus door and look to us to tell them how to proceed, we’ve got to give them something positive.   It’s time for all of us to grow up and stop wasting our time on things that don’t matter.  The FAMU marching band should be a place where great musicians go to perform, not where ambitious young students are sent to die.

These tragedies were nothing short of entirely avoidable, and the FAMU administrators know this.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about College.”  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.





Filed under African Americans

10 responses to “Dr. Boyce: Why the FAMU Hazing Incidents Make Me So Angry

  1. Patrick

    It’s a darn shame, that these things are going on, and the leaders of that college on other colleges are not speak up again this hazing think, THIS BAND SHOULD BE SUSPENDEN PERIOD……..I don’t give a damm or great they are, the college need to sent a strong message to all these students so they can understand that this type of behavior cann’t be tolerated no more, WHAT ELSE NEED TO HAPPING????
    ONE DEAD is too many, how many more skids have to get hurt ???
    HOW MANY MORE???? before the leaders at this school realize that they need to sent a clear message to these skids. This has been a ongoing problem for this college for years and nothing has been done to fix it, I just hope that this boy death does not going in vain before something is done at this school to stop this madness………I HOPE THEY SUSPEND THE BAND AND THE SCHOOL, I WILL NOT SEND MY SONS TO THAT COLLEGE

  2. Pingback: Dr. Boyce: Why the Recent FAMU Hazing Arrests Make Me So Angry | Your Black World

  3. Palvin

    Unfortunately, hazing has been the culture at all the HBCU’s for many decades. Freshmen arriving on campus have undergone some sort of hazing before they attend their first class. For the most part, this sort of hazing has been free of personal injury or danger to students. However, times have changed and admission to fraternities, sororities, athletic, social and musical organizations on HBCU campuses have become dangerous and problematic. The UNCF leadership should demand the outlawing of hazing at all of its member schools.

  4. Jerome F. Thompson

    So sad. What are our leaders doing at our institutions that allow this kind of thing to happen and get to the point that a student is dead and a family is in pain. Wake up my people.

  5. As a single mother to my only and college aged son, my sympathies pour out to Robert Champion’s family. For too long, the African American community has accepted violence as acceptable and even a part of being black. How ignorant and evil! I hope and pray that everyone who saw what happened and did or said nothing will have no rest and no peace until they repent and come forward.

  6. Patrick

    Totally agre, the black community need to stop acepting violence has a every day thing…..We need to wake up, WE HAVE TO STOP THIS NONSE….I hope the charge everyone who was on that bus, maybe that way someone with come forward…….Like how I said before THEY NEED TO SUSPEND THE ENTIRE BAND, maybe that way they will teach them something positive.

  7. Lo

    Campus violence is not something that only happens at HBCU’s. What happen to this young man was wrong no matter what the racial make-up of the campus. And yes we in the black community need to stop accepting violence as a part of everyday life. But please, for the sake of all others who look to discredit the Affrican American Community, do not make this out to be something that only happens at HBCU’s

  8. Annie Williams

    I like many are sadden over the death. It a shame fun have been taken out of a group that suppose to be a family and look out for one another. I remember playing in the band and we were a family we looked out for each other. Today people and belief have changed. The day I entered college I never forgot my purpose for going, it was to get educated so i could get a job to support myself or build a company to support other as well as myself,that’s exactly what I did. Built a company. I supported myself all the way through college because my parent wasn’t able to. Some how I see if a college student have to support themselves mainly, they don’t have time for foolishness, especially getting invilved in beating and killing. Band should be fun and that’s all. I know of know job where a person will apply for a Drum Major Job. So why is it that some of us Blacks place a lot on thing that don’t really matter. What happen is a prime example, It takes a life time to build a name but only a second to tear it down. FAMU now has a stain that can’t be removed. As for the Band Director and the President of the University (Charge People) you get paid to be in the positions you are in and you are responsible. Saying you didn’t know or you reported it (And didn’t follow up) don’t let you off the hook.You get paid to know and you are responsible. A mother and father son is lying in a grave covered with dirt, never to return to life.All the band students (and I say all because there is no way everyone didn’t know hazing was a part of the band. Because every one know when something is happening in the family), Director and President should be held accountable and this accountability need to be dealt with on Earth First then in Heaven.I wonder what else has happen in FAMU Band that was unlawful. It really make me think ,if this happen what else has happen between the members.

  9. Annie Williams

    Thak you Dr. Boyce for keeping it real and saying what really need to be said.

  10. show the incoming students the beginning and the end of their years in school . tell them what its going to take in between those dates to get to where they want to be . socializing isn’t a bad thing but don’t let it steer you off course . why are we surprise when kids act like kids .

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