Alleged FAMU hazing victim: 'I was made an example of' | Education
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DECATUR, Ga. -- For Bria Hunter, joining the Marching 100 was like a dream come true. The freshman clarinet player had deep ties with Florida A&M University; her parents are both Rattlers, her father a former band member himself.
In the beginning, she loved every minute of her experience. But things began to change in mid-October, when she decided to join the Red Dawg Order, an unsanctioned sub-group within the band, made of Georgia students.
"They went around the room and they asked people, 'Did you want to be a part of this organization?'" Hunter recalled. "Some people said yes, and some said no."
Hunter said yes. Weeks later, she was hospitalized with a fractured thigh-bone -- injuries she claims to have received while being hazed by the group.
According to the Tallahassee Police Department, Hunter and other students were called to meetings at an off-campus apartment where two male students beat her, using fists and metal rulers to hit her legs.
Monday, police arrested three FAMU students, all members of the Red Dawg Order, in connection with the incident.
Two weeks ago, Bria Hunter sat down for an interview with 11Alive's Blayne Alexander. But at her mother's request, the interview never aired; Hunter would soon head back to FAMU, she explained, and her mother feared for her daughter's safety.
Now, Hunter is withdrawing from FAMU, giving up an $85,000 band scholarship and suing the school, bringing many of the details about her alleged ordeal into the open.
"The first day, I was made an example of because I didn't remember what we had learned that day," she told Alexander, describing one of the meetings.
"A good few people got hit," she added.
Bria was good friends with Robert Champion, a FAMU drum major and Decatur native who died Nov. 19 during a band trip to Orlando. Hazing is suspected in his death.
Champion and Hunter both attended Southwest DeKalb High School, and she considered him a mentor. In the weeks before his death, Hunter and Champion had breakfast. Hazing came up in conversation.
"He didn't like it," Hunter said. "He told me not to let anyone touch me."
FAMU President Dr. James Ammons has pledged to end hazing at the university. Since Champion's death, the "Marching 100" has been suspended indefinitely and band director Dr. Julian White has been put on administrative leave.
But Hunter said, she doesn't believe the flurry of attention will make much of a difference.
"I don't think anything's gonna change just because of this," she said. "An AKA died seven years ago because of hazing, and it still hasn't ceased, so I don't think anything is going to happen."