TALLAHASSEE — For the second year, Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Department of Music completed its “Working Together to Stop Hazing” recruitment and outreach tour in South Florida, Feb. 21-23.
The tour stopped at Palm Beach Lakes High School in West Palm Beach, Myrtle Grove Elementary School in Miami and concluded at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach. The first stop was in Orlando.
“This recruitment and anti-hazing tour offers representatives of the university an opportunity to showcase the talent that is being cultivated within FAMU’s music department,” said Special Assistant to the President for Anti-Hazing Bryan Smith. “It also reiterates the university’s zero tolerance stance on hazing. We want potential students, their parents, and anyone interested in recommending FAMU as an educational option, to know that our academic programs are high quality and we are dedicated to providing a safe and caring campus environment.”
The music department auditioned 63 students on the tour, according to Kawachi A. Clemons, the department’s chair.
The tour is a component of the department’s ongoing efforts to eradicate hazing and to provide students with access to world-class music education.
“I was approached by a group of music students in Fall 2012 about the idea of a tour. After a few discussions and meeting with interim president [Larry] Robinson we were on our way to developing what I believed would be an amazing showcase,” Kawachi said. “We (students and I) wanted to make sure the university’s message about anti-hazing was imbedded throughout the performance. We have received much positive feedback regarding the tour.”
High school students who attended the workshops and auditions got a glimpse into the FAMU music experience with a mini-concert by the university’s renowned music ensembles, which included renditions of Do I Do, Outstanding, Rock With You, Never Too Much and Square Biz.
Hazing at FAMU came to forefront in 2011 when the school’s Marching 100 band-member Robert Champion, 26, died after a ritual at the Florida Classic, the annual football game at the Citrus Bowl between rivals FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University. His death led to the band’s suspension, which was restored in 2013. Then band director Julian White retired and FAMU President James Ammons was fired.
During the tour, FAMU students, staff and administrators presented high school students with anti-hazing workshops, as well as held auditions for music scholarships.
“This tour is an important component of accomplishing the university’s and the music department’s vision of teaching our young people to embody ‘Excellence with Caring,’” said Clemons. “Through this tour, we want to give high school students an opportunity to reach their highest potential in music education and music performance, as well as instill in them the importance of hazing prevention.”