FAMU: The Brutal Side of Hazing

The death of a FAMU drum major represents another sad case of a college student literally dying to belong, Charles M. Blow writes in his New York Times column.

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Robert Champion (Florida A&M University)

The alleged hazing death of Robert Champion, a Florida A&M University marching-band drum major, highlights another tragic case of students trying desperately to be part of the in crowd, Charles M. Blow writes in his column at the New York Times. He recounts his own painful story of pledging a fraternity and concludes that "the conspiracy of silence" must end.

I know this behavior well because I was once a willing participant. I was first paddled when I pledged a fraternity in college. It was one of our first meetings as a pledge group and the brothers were working their way through a line of us from shortest to tallest. Eventually they got to me. No. 13.

I moved to the center of the room and assumed the position. I stared straight ahead. I tried to brace myself for the blow, but nothing could have prepared me.

Swat!

The force of the impact nearly knocked me over. I rose on my toes to keep from falling forward. The pain of it crackled through my thin body. My vision blurred. The sound in the room grew muted as if I was listening from underwater. My temples throbbed. My nostrils flared. My nose ran and my eyes watered despite my best efforts to prevent it. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead. I was on fire. My body demanded that I scream, run, cry, do something. But I knew that I could do nothing. I stood firm.

“Thanks -- may I have another?” 

Read Charles M. Blow's entire column at the New York Times.

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Sept. 19 2014 8:34 AM