Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

FAMU marching band returns after 19-month suspension

TALLAHASSEE — The band room on Florida A&M University's campus is alive again.

Eager freshmen in suits and ties lined up to audition for a spot in the acclaimed, but embattled, Marching 100 band Saturday. Then they practiced with the upperclassmen late into the evening, learning the sharp movements and musicianship that earned the band worldwide fame.

No one has forgotten why the band room went dark: the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion in November 2011. Not the students who say they understand how important it is that the 100 return as sharp as ever, but without the culture of hazing that has dogged the campus for decades, nor the administrators who know the band's problems contributed to the school's accreditation issues and tarnished its reputation.

"The world is watching you," Department of Music chairman Kawachi Clemons told the students during orientation Saturday. "Everyone's eyes are on us right now."

No more than 256 students will participate in the Marching 100 this year, compared to the more than 400 that were on the roll before the 19-month suspension.

New rules also are in place. Members must be full-time students and maintain a 2.0 GPA. No student will be allowed in the band for more than four football seasons.

The school hired new staff to ensure the band complies with university policy and to respond quickly to any accusations of hazing.

There is new nomenclature, as well. Student "section leaders" are now called "principals." Band director Sylvester Young, on the job since June, said campus administrators suggested the new title because now only adult band staff will lead rehearsals and teach students.

Instead of "drum majors," the band will have three "field commanders." That decision was made to respect the memory of Champion, who died the night of the final game of the 2011 season in Orlando after absorbing more than 300 blows in a ritual called "crossing bus C."

Young will decide midweek whether the band will travel to Orlando for the first game of the season, the MEAC-SWAC Challenge in Orlando on Sept. 1. And if they do travel, whether they will perform during halftime or just provide entertainment from the stands.

The students are excited to be back, said Ronald Gray, a junior from Fort Lauderdale who plays the euphonium. "We're really focused and understand the job we have at hand," he said. "This is bigger than every individual. This is history."

Classes don't start for two weeks, but the freshmen are already moved into temporary dorms and learning Marching 100 basics.

Beverly Rohan's son Eric just graduated from the same school in Decatur, Ga., that Champion attended. Now he is at FAMU hoping to make the band's baritone section. Eric has been taught by Marching 100 alumni since he was in middle school, and his mother didn't hesitate to allow him to attend FAMU. But she has talked to him about hazing.

"We do not condone it in any form, way or fashion," Rohan said. "We don't want anyone to haze him. We don't want him to haze anyone. And he is to report it if he sees it or hears about it."

Comments
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18
Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council on Saturday that the United States is "locked and loaded," ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again."I spoke to the president...
Published: 04/14/18
Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

WASHINGTON — As he declares the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria a success, President Donald Trump is adopting a phrase that a previous president came to regret — "mission accomplished." On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "A perfectly executed strike last ...
Published: 04/14/18