Four Florida college students expelled over hazing

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 23, 2012 9:18 PM
Four Florida college students expelled over hazing

By Michael Peltier

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (Reuters) - Four members of the Florida A&M University marching band were expelled on Monday for hazing, the latest in a series of actions following the death of drum major Robert Champion in November.

At a special meeting, the college board of Trustees dismissed four students who were arrested last week on misdemeanor charges for hazing incidents involving five other students. The incidents were unrelated to Champion's death, according to police reports.

The students , Denise Bailey, 22, Brandon Benson, 23, Hakeem Birch, 21 and Anthony Mingo, 22, were charged with punching, slapping and paddling fellow band members during initiation rites for a group of clarinet players called "The Clones."

Each of the four denied any hazing took place, the police report said.

Pamela Tolson, a spokeswoman for the historically black college, confirmed that disciplinary action took place but declined further comment.

The university and its celebrated Marching "100" band have a long history of hazing, including several well-publicized instances over the past decade that have led to lawsuits, injury and, in Champion's case, death.

Champion, 26, died November 19 after a performance of the renowned marching band at the Florida Classic football game in Orlando. Emergency responders found him unresponsive on a band bus parked outside the band's hotel. An autopsy later concluded that Champion likely died after hazing.

Local and state law enforcement officials are continuing their investigation into Champion's death.

(Editing by Greg McCune)