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On the hot seat after a hazing death: FAMU President Dr. James Ammons, and director Julian White and Ralph Turner, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Video and story at Orlando Sentinel

Felicia Fabre, whose son is a sophomore in the band, said she received a text message Saturday night saying a drum major had been killed after a hazing incident.

Her first thought was, “Oh, my God, I told them that this was going to happen,” Fabre said. She shared with the Sentinel a series of emails, beginning in August, that outlined some of the abusive behavior her son had witnessed and been subjected to by “section leaders” in the band.

“These practice[s] MUST STOP and they will not until someone stands up and some changes are made,” Fabre wrote in an email to band director Julian White and Ralph Turner, listed on the website as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I feel because of love, calling and duty I must not only speak up for my son, but also for the students who are being belittled and mistreated and feel they do not have a voice.”

Demings’ news conference came just hours after FAMU officials announced all band performances would be suspended while the university investigates the circumstances of Champion’s death amid allegations of hazing within the school’s famed marching band.

“Any death that occurs as a result of hazing is a third-degree felony,” Demings said.

FAMU President Dr. James Ammons said the university is organizing an independent task force to “determine if there are patterns of inappropriate behavior within the culture” of the 375-member band.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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 current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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