In a column at Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Florida A&M University graduate Ibram H. Rogers says that university officials and lawmakers should seek to eradicate the hazing culture in the aftermath of Robert Champion's death instead of looking to place blame. For years, people have looked the other way in the name of this heinous tradition. Now is the time to change it.
We know that blame should be placed on the band members who carried out this homicide. But it should be a cautious, understanding, historically grounded blame that remembers that they were doing what cohorts before them had done, while I (am sure many others) figuratively (and probably literally) looked the other way.
On the one hand, Champion’s death uncovered a culture of hazing, not student killers. It uncovered a culture of hazing that persisted long before James H. Ammons came to Tallahassee. It has harmed people long before Florida Governor Rick Scott ignorantly thought that the way to relate to middle-class FAMU students and Black state legislators was to reveal his upbringing in “public housing,” cared for by a father with a “sixth-grade education.”
The response should be about eradicating that culture, not finding whom to blame for his death. We can expel, arrest and jail the practitioners of the culture, but that does not automatically expel, arrest and jail the culture. We must expel, arrest and jail the culture of hazing. Now that the FAMU board of trustees has smartly rejected Scott’s plea to suspend Ammons, the blame game needs to cease and the construction of a new culture needs to commence.
Read Ibram H. Rogers' entire column at Diverse Issues in Higher Education.