FAMU Band's Future Remains Uncertain

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

As of mid-day, seven of eleven people facing thirteen felonies in the death of a FAMU Drum Major had been arrested. Even with the arrests, Mike Vasilinda tells us the future of the band is in limbo.

FAMU Band Percussionist Caleb Jackson got his first appearance before a judge Thursday. Judge Ronald Flury was prepared to release Jackson on a fifteen thousand dollar bond.

But that evaporated when the judge learned Jackson was on probation for a felony battery charge.

The denial of bond brought tears to Jackson’s fiancee.

“Without him being able to work, my bills aren’t being paid,” Jackson’s fiancee Jasmine Alexander said. “I need him home.”

Students are on break right now, but when they return on Monday for the summer semester, the future of the band will still be up in the air. That’s because there are still two investigations going on.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement put questions about band finances and per diem payments on hold while the criminal case was being investigated. And the Board of Governors, which is investigating how FAMU administrators handled the hazing death, got a final packet of documents in mid April.

Governor Rick Scott also said it was too soon for the band be back on stage.

“We ought to finish and make sure that there’s not going to be anything like this that happens again,” Scott said. “I don’t think we’re in that position yet. The head band’s got a great history, but we can’t afford to lose another individual like Robert Champion.”

Scott also said that when the time was ripe, he was willing to participate in settlement talks with Drum Major Robert Champions family.


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  • by dh - hsbc on May 4, 2012 at 09:38 PM
    I can't beleive that people care about a band over the death of a young man. It is really sad that the importance is more about saving the band than a life i strongly feel that the band should be treated like any other sports in college when they are found guilty in wrong doing "heavy suspension". To be real famu band will be suspended for at least eight years to clean out all of the present and grad school students and then they will be re-instated with a new class of music students. If the school is as good as everyone said it is than it will survive without the band to make money.
  • by Rick Location: Tallahassee on May 4, 2012 at 08:22 AM
    We (FAMU, Tallahassee, State of Florida) cannot afford to not have the Marching 100 back on the field this year. Let's not kid ourselves. Thirteen band members have been charged in the death of Robert Champion. That's a far cry from 400 band members. The majority of the band members had absolutely nothing to do with the hazing of Robert Champion or with hazing anyone else. Therefore they should not be punished for the bad behavior of a few band members. FAMU cannot afford to suspend the Marching 100 for an entire football season. That would be financial suicide that they will never recover from. The university has done all it can to eradicate hazing. It's time to lift the suspension and let the Marching 100 perform. FAMU needs to stand its ground and not let Gov. Rick Scott or anybody else hold it hostage. LET THE MARCHING 100 PERFORM, BEGINNING FALL 2012.
    • reply
      by Leona on May 4, 2012 at 10:25 AM in reply to Rick
      Gee, I thought Ya'll didn't believe in Stand Your Ground...
      • reply
        by Truth on May 4, 2012 at 05:50 PM in reply to Leona
        AMEN!!!!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 4, 2012 at 02:42 PM in reply to Rick
      13 band members? How many were on the bus, but not arrested? I know of at least one. How many band members were involved in hazing before this incident? A few were suspended just days before this incident. It is more that just 13. Anyway the number doesn't matter. What matters is what will the administration do? There has to be substantial changes in the way the band operates. I think the band should not be allowed to travel at all for at least a year. they can play at the home games. They should also look at the scholarships and make some changes there as well.
  • by Rock n roller Location: Tallahassee on May 4, 2012 at 07:35 AM
    They could start a new act like JAILHOUSE ROCK -Elvis would be proud
  • by Rene on May 4, 2012 at 06:55 AM
    I am all for the return of the Marching 100 after there has been a real cleaning/gutting/sanitizing of the band, starting with FAMU administrators, music department (band) administrators and staff and definitely students band members 25 years old and up. The students who came to the program on scholarships can keep their scholarships since there are other components in the music program. Some may aspire to be music/band teachers at the professional level. I have not heard of professional marching band personnel. Also, one of the reasons the athletic department is in financial trouble is because of the lack of revenue generated due to poor attendance to the home athletic events. This community, especially the students do not support FAMU athletics; whether the band performs or not. And, you all know this to be true.
  • by DELUMP Location: FLORIDA on May 4, 2012 at 06:41 AM
    My heart continues to go out to each individual family involved as well as my FAMU family. Now that progress has been made to prosecute those individuals involved I have High Hopes that we can began to more forward and make FAMU and the Marching 100 greater than they have every been. People will always have an opinion on what and how they think things should be. In the end things will work out as they should. FAMU I will always love you....A Proud Alumni! R.I.P RC
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 4, 2012 at 02:32 PM in reply to DELUMP
      There's still a looooong way to go before the public is convinced that there will be no more issues. Arrests are a good start, but there needs to be more done by FAMU to reassure the tax-payers and alumni that support the school that the hazings will stop.
  • by Anonymous on May 4, 2012 at 06:06 AM
    They should replace the entire band staff, and then start over with a freshman only band, elimination any prior members. Sometimes a fresh start is the best. This is the only way to minimize the risk of hazing to a reasonable level. Sure, hazing MAY still exist within the band, but if prior band members and staff are still around hazing WILL exist.
  • by roger on May 4, 2012 at 06:05 AM
    Terminate the whole school should be the only option....they are all part of this murder as they ALL knew about it...and their only defence (shows their ignorace) is that it happens everywhere
  • by diogenes on May 4, 2012 at 05:55 AM
    For the record,I'm White...Does everyone say every time there is a sexual assault or robbery or drug deal by a college sports player (all of the time of over the country and other countries- all races) "We will no longer have a sports team because this crime has cast a bad light on Sports." FSU and Florida (as other schools) would be TOAST! Right now FAMU's Band is one of it's crowning achievements. This event is like the Shuttle blowing up- we are all saddened by it; the people involved (at this point) are indited. IMO it is time to Move on and put Plan B into effect. Mr. Champion, his parents...I don't believe they would want FAMU to not have a Band. There are events that happened throughout society daily they put the aspects of Life under the microscope. People are hurt, maimed and killed every year from every institution from Little League the the military doing dumb stunts to join to prove they are "worthy". Every University should should have ZERO tolerance for any form of torture-style Hazing. Make people study or train more before they are invited into an organization...where an organization is regarded or recognized as elite or special- for quality that will still have to stand- use more scrutiny on the individuals and make it performance based and instead of beating people (or whatever other punishment that is doled out) simply tell the newbies they are provisional until they prove themselves and give them a reasonable time to "get with it." If they can't cut it they will not be allowed to a member.
  • by Sarah Location: Florida on May 4, 2012 at 04:42 AM
    The future of the band should be to allow the band to participate. These students came to this school to participate in the band. The remaining students have not been charged with a crime, therefore, they should not be punished for something they did not do. If the band is not allowed to perform, the university will lose those students plus all the people who come to the game to see them participate. At this hard economic time, FAMU can not make a decision to satisfy the people not involved in the University. There is so much outcry to disband this band and close FAMU. Why hasn't Gov. Scott and others requested the same thing from FSU where a student killed a student, students are being robbed, and students being attacked. This should be made public to show people, negative things are hapennings on all campuses.
  • by john Location: florida on May 4, 2012 at 03:41 AM
    it would seem that the whole band program was, to some degree, complicit in this series of crimes but fracturing women's legs and murder by beating to death are reason to terminate the band program.
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