Dismissal of FAMU Band Director Halted for Probe


TALLAHASSEE— In order to prevent interference with the outcome of the investigation into the recent death of Florida A&M University (FAMU) drum major Robert Champion, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has requested that all disciplinary action regarding students and employees be put on hold. At today’s Board of Trustees meeting, FAMU officials confirmed that it is suspending the termination of Dr. Julian White, tenured professor, director of bands, and chair of the department of music.


“This is a step in the right direction, but we still believe that administrative leave with pay is tantamount to a form of discipline. We will continue exploring all legal options to have Dr. White fully reinstated as Director of Bands and to his position as full tenured professor and chair of the FAMU Department of Music.”

Chuck Hobbs, Attorney for Dr. Julian White

“This continues to be a sad time for the entire FAMU community, but each day, I see that Robert Champion’s death was not in vain. A dialogue of healing has begun, and I’m encouraged to see students, faculty, alumni, administrators and trustees taking steps to get rid of hazing. Robert’s parents are starting a hazing hotline. Today I joined ministers and community members at a prayer service for the Champion family, the Marching 100, and for the FAMU Nation. I ask people to continue praying for the Champions and for the Rattler Nation, and I look forward to working with these groups to eradicate hazing on and off campuses throughout the country— in Robert’s name.”
Dr. Julian E. White

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - December 7, 2011 -

Dismissal procedures against the longtime director of FAMU's band have been put on hold.

A university attorney said Wednesday that Julian White's status
has changed to being on administrative leave with pay.

The change was made after state police asked the school to halt
any disciplinary action until a criminal investigation into the
death of a band member is finished.

Detectives say hazing played a role in drum major Robert
Champion's Nov. 19 death.

Dismissal procedures were initiated against White and four
students after the death.

The four students were reinstated for the time being after the
state police's request.


UPDATE: November 30, 2011 at 1:45pm:

Rattlerz With Attitude Release:

The following video is being shared throughout the student body of Florida A&M University campus on social networks in response to FAMU Marching 100 Band Drum Major Robert Champion's death & the firing of Band Director Dr. White.

T.J. Legacy-Cole a student activist at FAMU and leader of the Rattlerz With Attitude- Grassroots Movement addresses the student body in the aftermath of FAMU Marching Band 100 Drum Major Robert Champion.

Occupy The Hill: FAMU Student Rally

Monday December 5,2011 11:30am The Set

Students are asked to wear black T-shirts to symbolize our unity.

The rally is for student empowerment & student accountability.


UPDATE: November 28th at 6:40pm:

The soon-to-be fired director of FAMU's Marching 100 speaks out himself today. Dr. Julian White says he was a scapegoat in the death of drum major Robert Champion.

Dr. White sat down with the media today and spoke out for the first time Robert Champion died.

White says he can document years of reports where he notified FAMU administration of hazing incidents within the band.

He says not only has he done all he could to stop it -- he says he coined the phrase "no tolerance" of hazing with the Marching 100.

"You've got to stop hazing. You got to understand what hazing is."

Dr. Julian White says that is what he always tells the band members of the FAMU Marching 100. The longtime music director says he did everything possible to try to get rid of hazing.

"I tried my best to make the administration aware of what problems occurred."

Dr. White says the November 19th death of drum major Robert Champion could have been avoided ... and that he shouldn't have been fired.

"How would I be negligent or misconduct in not reporting the activities when I did report them. To, that kind of statement is ambiguous."

About 100 members of the Marching 100 protested in front of Lee Hall Monday morning. The students are demanding that Dr. White gets his job back.

"We're taking a stand. We're supporting the staff, supporting Dr. White, supporting Robert, the entire band staff."

Dr. White says he's always reported hazing incidents to higher-ups at the university. He says he suspended 26 band members just two weeks before the Florida Football Classic in Orlando where Champion died.

"Sometimes I feel as though I'm out there by myself. By that, I mean, if I've given you the names, do something about it. If you've had those names two weeks, do something about it. If some strong actions had been taken, then Robert Champion may well be alive now."

Dr. White says even back in 1989 after a student at Morehouse College died, he went to Dr. Foster and recommended a task force against hazing.

Dr. White's termination is effective December 22nd. He days he has not heard back from President Ammons about his request to be reinstated.

UPDATE: November 28th at 1:15pm:

Dr. White is addressing the media. He says he feels comfortable that he did everything he could to get rid of hazing.

The former band director at Florida A&M University says he had suspended band members for hazing-related incidents before the death of a 26-year-old student earlier this month.

Longtime band director Julian White was fired last week after
the death of Robert Champion. Authorities say hazing played a part
in Champion's death.

White says he fears the hazing linked to the death could mean
the end of the school's famed Marching 100 band. The band had
performed at Super Bowls and other high-profile events.

White told reporters in Tallahassee on Monday that he wants his
job back and feels he was unfairly dismissed. Since Champion's
death, the school has shuttered the band and performances by the
rest of the school's music department.


UPDATE: November 28th at Noon:

FAMU students are ready for a fight as they gather to protest the firing of Band Director, Doctor Julian White.

About 100 FAMU Marching 100 band members marched from the band room to Lee Hall this morning.

The group was chanting that they want Doc back, referring to band director Dr. Julian White.


UPDATE: November 28th at 10:55am:

Students are protesting the removal of Dr. Julian White as the FAMU Director of Bands in front of Lee Hall on campus today.

The student protesters, made up of Marching 100 band members, have been asked to come inside of the auditorium in Lee Hall after protesting for about 10 minutes outside. Dr. Ammons is expected to come speak to them.

A band member announced that Ammons is in a meeting and that administration will give the protesters a 45 minute heads-up before Ammons can come speak to them.

Stay with WCTV for more on this story.


UPDATED: November 25th at 3:40pm:

WCTV spoke with attorney Chuck Hobbs by phone today for comment on the documents below. He said that Dr. Julian White was not afforded due process and thus sought out representation from Mr. Hobbs.

Mr. Hobbs said that he expects a swift response from FAMU president Dr. James Ammons regarding the request for reinstatement, and while no lawsuit has been filed, it is a possibility in the future if the university does not do 'the right thing' and reinstate Dr. White.

"For FAMU, the band IS the football team," according to Hobbs. That is one of the many reasons why Dr. White, who is credited with helping to build the band into the phenomenon it is today, is requesting reinstatement.

Hobbs also said that more than two dozen band students were suspended just before the trip to Orlando and that the university should have been in crisis mode before the Florida Classic.

Hobbs is planning to hold a press conference to further discuss the letter and its supporting documents sometime next week.

Tallahassee, Florida - November 25, 2011 -

The following is a statement from Attorney Chuck Hobbs, who is representing FAMU Band Director Dr. Julian White.

Attached above in PDF format is a copy of Attorney Chuck Hobbs' response to the pending dismissal of Dr. Julian White, long-time director of the FAMU Marching 100 by James Ammons, president of Florida A&M University.

Ammons' letter cites “alleged misconduct and/or incompetence involving confirmed reports and allegations of hazing within the Department of Music and the “Marching 100” as cause for dismissal.

Hobbs is requesting the immediate reinstatement of White. Attachments are as follows:

1) A letter of response to Dr. James Ammons requesting immediate reinstatement of Dr. Julian White's employ at Florida A&M University

2) Supporting documents/exhibits showing White's proactive responses to confirmed and alleged hazing during his tenure as band director of the Marching 100, and the Ammons' administration's lack of support in enforcing White's anti-hazing efforts with more punitive and preventative measures.

The Hobbs Group is planning a press conference for Monday, November 28th.

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