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.