By Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel
11:07 PM EST, December 7, 2011
A Florida A&M University alumnus and student journalists at the college have launched an independent website devoted to collecting reports of hazing past and present on "their beloved campus" — an effort that they say has elicited at least two dozen accounts of abuse, many of them violent.
"The FAMU Hazing Blog," as the site is called, details reports of extortion, punching, taunting and even burning in the handful of incidents reported so far. The alleged attacks span a 50-year history.
The site's creation comes amid outrage and grief over the Nov. 19 death in Orlando of FAMU drum major Robert Champion — the victim of an alleged hazing attack aboard the band's parked bus.
Although some students and alumni have criticized the site for adding "fuel to the fire of a terrible situation," as a 2010 graduate wrote, creators say their effort is ultimately aimed at ending all hazing at the Tallahassee university. They are detailing not only abuse within the famed FAMU marching band but also at campus fraternities and sororities.
"As a proud alumnus heartbroken by the death of Robert Champion, I felt it was vital to collaborate across generations to get a better understanding of a cross-generational problem," wrote graduate and former Wall Street Journal business reporter Peter McKay, who says he approached the editor of the student-run newspaper, The Famuan, to start the blog. "Persistent hazing has been an ugly open secret at FAMU."
The Famuan's editor and FAMU officials did not respond to requests for comment, but McKay said hazing reports continue to come in.
The site has a link to a form that hazing victims and eye witnesses can fill out about the abuse. The reports themselves have been summarized on the site.
One came from a 1962 graduate who wrote that she was physically tortured while pledging a sorority: "A single-burner hotplate was laid on my back and I suffered a third-degree burn that has left a large black circle that is a permanent mark and reminder."
A current band member wrote that she was taunted and ostracized repeatedly: "My section leader told people to steal my instrument and things so I would quit." She also was forced to give her abusers money, she wrote. But, according to the blog, after reporting the incidents to band staff and her parents, she "got a satisfactory response."
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