The Black Wall of Silence
1 year ago
Abuse on black college campuses go unchallenged until it's too late
College hazing has been around since the inception of fraternities and sororities. From Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to predominately white institutions, hazing reports have emerged. But when someone has been severely hurt or loses their life, the story is bound to grab the attention of the media. Unfortunately, this time, it’s an HBCU.
The recent death of drum major Robert Champion, 26, has caused Florida A&M University to be shoved into a media frenzy it cannot run away from — not to mention pending lawsuits and the embarrassing reprimanding of FAMU’s President James Ammons. The tragic news broke around the same time of sex abuse scandals at Penn State and Syracuse University. Alumni and students from all three schools were left wondering the same thing: How could this happen at my school?
Penn State’s scandal could be seen as a “cover-up.” It was clear that the actions of Jerry Sandusky were against the law, but overlooked by the higher ups. Yet, in FAMU's hazing incident, band director Julian White suspended individuals who hazed, and provided documentation to support his actions. The administration just failed to fight harder against the hazing culture in the band.
Should FAMU and Penn State receive the same national media coverage as the sex abuse scandals or are the two cases completely different?
FAMU, the college of "love and charity" could use an edifying moment right now. Plagued with financial woes and budget cuts, FAMU now has a death on their hands. As the top news story on major news outlets—including CNN, The Huffington Post, The Miami Herald and Fox News—the death of drum major Robert Champion, 26, has arguably become “fascinating” in the media world.
Frankly, as a graduate of FAMU, I find myself doing a Google search once a day to retrieve the latest news on my alma mater. But why is it so intriguing? Maybe the public has been captivated by the fact that a hazing death has occurred at a black institution or that secret-hazing practices by a world-renowned band have finally surfaced. Either way, Champion’s death has prompted a “FAMU Hazing Blog”—produced by a FAMU alumnus, a feisty college newspaper column written by the editor-in-chief—which was picked up by The Washington Post—and consistent coverage on CNN and Fox News.
Current FAMU student Brittney Akins, 22, a senior who was active with the campus’ Student Government Association from 2007-2008, said that the media has not been bias with their coverage of the alleged hazing incident when compared to other university scandals—including both Penn State and Syracuse sex abuse scandals.