TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami.com/AP)— Florida Gov. Rick Scott is taking a stance on the alleged hazing incident that left a Florida A&M University student dead.
On Friday, Scott said he agreed with FAMU’s decision to postpone the work of a university task force set up after the death of a marching band member.
Scott said a law enforcement investigation and a probe by the Florida Board of Governors should wrap up before the university conducts its own inquiry.
FAMU President James Ammons announced early Friday that the task force he appointed to look into the famed Marching ‘100’ band would wait before beginning its work. The task force had been scheduled to meet Monday.
Robert Champion was found unresponsive on Nov. 19 on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel after a football game. His death has sparked a criminal investigation as well as a probe into whether FAMU has ignored past warnings about hazing.
FAMU has fired the band director, but he contends he repeatedly told the university about problems with hazing.
Police have already said hazing occurred before Champion’s death but have not released any extensive details on exactly what happened to the 26-year-old. A 911 tape obtained this week by The Associated Press included a caller saying Champion had vomit in his mouth and nose in the moments before he died.
Ammons, in a memo to the FAMU board of trustees this week, said that four students connected to the incident have already been expelled.
Scott, in his first extensive comments about the incident, called the death “horrible” and said that state leaders must work to make sure that a similar incident never happens again. He said that’s why earlier this week he called on all 11 state universities to review their anti-hazing policies even though the state university system already requires all schools to have anti-hazing rules and penalties.
“We cannot have another child, another student die this way,” Scott said. ” … You send your child to college. You expect them to come back, you don’t expect something to happen to them. This stuff has to be so infuriating as a parent.”
Scott’s remarks came the same day that a group of black Tallahassee ministers held a news conference to announce formation of a task force charged with battling hazing at all historically black colleges and universities.
The group also announced plans for a community-wide prayer service at noon on Dec. 7. Some of the members of the task force include presidents at four HBCUs, including South Carolina State University, Edward Waters College and Florida Memorial University.
“We are aware that hazing has been ingrained, ingrained and ingrained into the culture,” said the Rev. R.B. Holmes, pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. “At this point, to be able to respect and honor the legacy of Robert Champion, we must come together to make sure there will never be another Robert Champion will die this kind of way. We’re saying, morally and spiritually it’s time for us to take the high road. It is a moral issue, a spiritual issue. We’re talking about it from a spiritual process. Jesus was hazed on Calvary.”
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