The NBJC Blog

FAMU Faults Gay Drum Major Robert Champion, Jr. in His Hazing Death

In a 23-page motion seeking dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Florida A&M University (FAMU) student Robert Champion, Jr., FAMU's attorneys laid out a disturbing response:

"Respectfully, as a 26 year old adult and leader in FAMU's band, Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators. Under these circumstances, Florida's taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr. Champion's Estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision and death."

On November 19, 2011 the FAMU drum major was found unresponsive aboard a band bus after the school's biggest game of the year. Police ruled the death a homicide from hazing; furthermore, the parents of Mr. Champion revealed that he was gay. Friends stated that he might have been more severely hazed because of his orientation. 

"I am extremely disappointed and disgusted by FAMU's lack of accountability in gay drum major Robert Champion, Jr.'s hazing death," says Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director and CEO. "Blaming the victim sends a dangerous and unacceptable message that institutions should get a pass for not proactively and effectively addressing the violent hazing culture."

NBJC is working closely with the Department of Justice and the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to address violence on HBCU campuses and how LGBT students like Robert Champion, Jr. are targetted.