College has long been the setting of hazing and initiation rituals. Most commonly seen in the fraternity and sorority settings, initiations have run the gamut from "fun" to fatal. The student from Florida A&M who was fatally beaten by his fellow band members was one of the tragic victims of this tradition.
The official autopsy results were just released last week. According to the forensic pathologist, the young man suffered extreme trauma as a result of being beaten on a bus returning home from a football game. He said the damage was so severe that he had only seen it in victims of torture or prolonged child abuse.
The student's muscles were destroyed and leaked a protein in such excess that his kidneys were unable to process it. According to pathologists, that could have been the cause of death.
Shockingly, not one person has been arrested as a result of his death. The student was in the process of being hazed by members of his school band. Considered by some students as a "rite of passage", the drum major was forced to walk backwards through a bus full of students while they beat him until he reached the back of the bus.
The president of the school has been warned about his ineffective attempts to stop the culture of hazing at his school, but has not been fired. Even after Governor Rick Scott urged the school to suspend him during the investigation, nothing has happened. None of the students who took part in the fatal beating has been arrested.
The school has a duty to protect students. This was not some terrible accident that happened in some off-campus location involving non-students. The young man was returning from a school event where he was participating in a school activity, and was beaten by his fellow students.
Police have been investigating this accident. They are questioning 30 people who may be connected with his death.
An arrest and conviction of those responsible for this fatality will not be able to bring the young man back. However, it will certainly shine a spotlight on the brutal act of hazing and could prevent others from suffering the same fate. Those who participated in, or allowed, this horrific behavior should be held responsible for the wrongful death of this student.
Source: Digital Journal, "Autopsy on Florida A&M hazing victim reveals he was brutalized," Joan Firstenberg, Dec. 22, 2011