With all the fallout from the hazing death of a young drum major at Florida A&M University last month, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-FL) announced today that she will introduce a federal anti-hazing bill. Congress is currently on recess and will not take up the measure until after the New Year.
The brutal hazing death of the Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion during a band trip last month has put FAMU’s long history of hazing under the media microscope. Champion’s death was ruled a homicide by police and the investigation is ongoing.
Champion’s autopsy revealed that he suffered a beating so bad that it caused internal bleeding that caused his body to go into shock. Champion’s death has spurred a call to action in the area of hazing not only in historically black colleges but at the universities nationwide.
Rep. Wilson’s legislative proposal will seek to outlaw practices which include vicious beatings with paddles as well as metal objects which have resulted not only in this death, but past injuries and hospital visits for past band members.
Rep. Wilson said hazing is “demeaning, dangerous, and, sadly, deadly…It’s time that we put an end to this horrible and humiliating ritual once and for all, so that no more students suffer the way that Robert and others have.”
Wilson’s history as a tough as nails school principal and time as a member of the school board is certainly a contributor to her stance on hazing.
In addition, during her time as South Atlantic Regional Director for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, she was given the nickname “The Haze Buster,” by the Miami Herald for her public mission to end hazing on college campuses. Wilson says that she is “having policy discussions now with presidents of historically-black colleges and universities, band members and presidents of Greek-letter organizations so that [they] will be able to craft a strong bill for introduction next month.”
Hazing is not a new phenomena and in a time where bullying with young people of all ages is also under the microscope now may be the best time for this type of legislation to be taken up by Congress.
Both hazing and anti-gay bullying legislation for example can be taken up together as initiatives to protect our young people from peer on peer violence in a school setting where education should be the focus.
And while hazing and bullying come from a different set of motivations the result is the injury both mental and physical to young people and that is the disturbing trend which Wilson’s proposal will seek to end.