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Florida A & M hazing panel tackles the hazing issues Thursday on webcast

From the Orlando Sentinel

Thousands of students and others are expected to gather at FAMU next week to discuss hazing during a “town hall” meeting that features some of the nation’s foremost experts on the issue.

The gathering at Florida A&M University, which has been rocked by a growing hazing scandal since the beating death of Robert Champion.

It also will be webcast.

Audience members will be able to tweet questions to the experts using the hashtag #FAMUtownhall.

The university also will conduct an electronic poll during the event, scheduled for 2 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Alfred L. Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center and Teaching Gym.

Among the experts who will participate are noted African American psychologist Naim Akbar and University of Maine professor Elizabeth Allan, who was the principal investigator for the National Study of Student Hazing in 2008.

Both had been appointed months ago to serve on FAMU’s anti-hazing committee — a group that was supposed to offer the school’s board of trustees recommendations for battling hazing but fell apart after trustees required its members to follow the state’s intricate and often-inconvenient open-government laws.

The others who will participate in the panel discussion are:

•Rasheed-Ali Cromwell, an attorney and associate for the SG Consulting Group, a leading authority on fraternity and sorority life. He has provided training and consulting in the areas of black, Greek-lettered organizations. He also is a former member of the North Carolina A&T marching band.

• Hank Nuwer, a recognized researcher and author of four books on hazing. He teaches journalism at Franklin College in Indiana.

•Victor Gaines, president of FAMU’s Marching “100” Band Association Inc. He is a former trumpet player and head drum major of the school’s famous band.

•Marissa West, FAMU’s student body president. She’s involved with several campus organizations, including the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

•James Bland, a FAMU graduate who served as vice president of the Student Government Association. He helped create a website called “FAMU United,” where alumni have been posting videos of themselves talking about the university’s positive influences on their lives.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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