TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NNPA) - Hazing is an issue that most people on college campuses are reluctant to talk about. Yet, the clandestine, often brutal and sometimes deadly practice simply refuses to go away.
Over time, there have been sporadic incidents at Florida A&M University (FAMU) that have cast a dark shadow over on-campus organizations and the extent of what prospective members must endure in order to be accepted.
Although the hazing spotlight is most often on fraternities and sororities, other organizations get caught in the hazing business, as well.
Ivery Luckey, a former clarinet player in FAMU’s famed Marching 100 band, was a victim of a hazing incident in 1998.
Mr. Luckey, a former business student from Ocala, was allegedly paddled at least 300 times, causing him to be hospitalized and left permanently injured.
At the Feb. 10 meeting of the FAMU Board of Trustees’ meeting, trustees voted to settle a lawsuit by awarding him $50,000.
"He will also receive $208, which is one-third of his mediation services," said Avery McKnight, general counsel for FAMU.
"The monies that Luckey will receive comes from the risk management fund on behalf of the FAMU Board of Trustees," he added.
Band members like Deanna Carpenter, a 21-year-old senior newspaper journalism student, are happy that the Luckey issue is over.
"I am glad that the case has been settled," said Ms. Carpenter, who is the current clarinet section leader. "I do not condone hazing, as a section leader," she added. "I think people mistake hazing for discipline and mistake discipline for hazing."
Lt. Louis Wichers, who works for the FAMU Police Department, said hazing is all about power and describes it as "ritualized and socialized domestic violence." He has handled several hazing cases, but is most concerned with the victims.
"The victims, no matter what the level of injury, will not usually come forward," said Lt. Wichers. "And the ones doing the hazing definitely don’t want to talk."
He also said hazing can lead to school suspensions and, in some states, even criminal prosecution. In 1998, 12 FAMU students were suspended in connection with the Luckey case. "In Florida, hazing is not a criminal act, but an administrative act, which means it is up to the administration as to how they will take action," he explained.
Some states, however, do consider hazing a criminal act and hazing has led to jail terms for offenders.
Meanwhile, the Marching 100 is trying desperately to erase the negative image that past incidents, as well as members, have given to the band’s reputation.
"We have, and will continue, to participate in anti-hazing workshops that usually start the first week of the season," Ms. Carpenter said. "In these workshops, we break down Florida statutes that define hazing and we also tell members how we feel about hazing," she added.
"If you want to create a bond within an organization, there are other ways to go about it than hazing," Lt. Wichers said.
(For more information about hazing, or to read about some hazing cases, go to the following site: www.stophazing.org.)
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