"I tried to get the other freshmen to stand up," Fabre' said. "Nobody wanted to be in my shoes."
The injury to Hunter and the suspensions should have been the warning shot that things have gone too far, the tradition is off the tracks. This is Ivery Luckey and Marcus Parker all over again.
Instead of backing off, the FAMU hazers stand defiant and undeterred.
They would prove true the prophecy by the mother of Fabre'. Earlier in the semester, she met with Julian White about the harassment of her son for refusing to be hazed.
"If you don't do more to stop this, somebody is going to get killed," Felicia Fabre' said.
Aboard Bus C
On the afternoon of Nov. 19, Orlando's Florida Citrus Bowl fills with 60,000 spectators for the 66th meeting of the Florida A&M University Rattlers and the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats.
They are here — dividing the stadium into opposite sides of green and orange, gold and maroon — ostensibly to watch a football game, but really to watch the halftime battle of the bands. The Classic — a "show interrupted by a football game" — is where everybody goes to the bathroom before halftime, not during.
By the time the FAMU band takes the field, led by Robert Champion and the five other drum majors, the sky is turning dark as storm clouds move over the stadium.
For the freshmen in the Marching 100, making it to the Florida Classic is all that matters. It's the last performance of the football season, and band members are treated like celebrities.
Their nine buses are escorted by Orlando Police Department motorcycles from the Rosen Plaza hotel to the Citrus Bowl. Bus A, the lead bus where the band staff and section leaders ride, is the most luxurious ride — complete with a sunroof, wood floors and electrical outlets at every seat. Julian White and the drum majors ride to the game in a black limousine.
After the Classic, win or lose, the band rejoices. A collective relief comes with the end of months of practice, the striving for perfection, the precision necessary to master the 360-steps-per-minute re-enactment of a rattlesnake's strike.
Upperclassmen are hugging and congratulating freshmen. They're exchanging gifts and personal items, including band hats and jackets. Hazers and hazees, tormentors and victims, are now good friends.
One freshman was prepared to confront the upperclassmen who had bullied him, but after the Classic, he was greeted "like when a soldier comes back and the family rushes at you."
"My goal was to not change ... , but you can't help it," he said. "After I thought about it, I was kind of like, 'I was being over-dramatic a lot of the times. It really wasn't that bad.' "
In that one moment, the torment is forgotten and forgiven. And sometimes, in that instant, a hazee begins the transition into a hazer, perpetuating the tradition upon the next class of freshmen.
"Abused children become abusers," Felicia Fabre' said. "That is what happens with the band: Abused band members become abusers."
For many of the freshmen in the Marching 100, the Florida Classic is the end of the abuse. But not for those who ride back to the Rosen Plaza hotel aboard Bus C.
Marcus Fabre' knows all about Bus C. In his freshman year, when he was being ostracized for refusing to be hazed, he found his name listed on Bus C after the Classic. He knew he didn't belong on that bus, which carries mostly members of the percussion section. He knew he was being set up.
"They tried to get me on that bus last year," Fabre' said. "I just didn't ride it."