FAMU students campaign for return of Marching 100 band
Florida A&M University ended its football season Saturday, its first without the famous Marching 100 wowing crowds at half time.
The question is: Now what?
As the university continues to cope with the 2011 hazing death of 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion, students and university leaders are still struggling with how —and when — to allow the famous band back into existence and onto the football field.
The awkwardness is playing out in dorm rooms and classrooms and publicly through a campaign to "Free the 100."
The phrase has been chanted spontaneously during campus events. It's been a trending topic on Twitter.
And it's been splashed onto a $25 sweatshirt.
"The Marching 100 is a very integral part of not only football season but of Homecoming, and it just felt like a member of our family wasn't there," said Karl Etters, a 26-year-old senior who also serves as editor-in-chief of The Famuan student newspaper.
"They didn't have to make the whole school suffer just because of a mistake," said Kendia Ellison, an 18-year-old freshman from Miami.
Ellison's friend, 19-year-old freshman Shineice Beamon of St. Petersburg, said she also misses the band but understands why members have been benched.
"The suspension is teaching them that FAMU doesn't allow hazing and is serious about the situation, because we did lose a student over it," Beamon said. "I think the punishment is reasonable because we lost a life, and because of it FAMU has had a lot of criticism."
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