Hazing Files Contain Window into FAMU Band Culture

Investigative reports show Robert Champion was one of three people who walked the gauntlet on Bus C the night he died. Percussionist Lissette Sanchez told investigators she was allowed to make the walk.

She also said the unwritten rules of hazing were known by everyone.

Sot: Lissette Sanchez
FAMU BAnd Member
“I mean, they tell you. It’s not a secret. It’s not a secret to anybody.,” Sanchez says.

Sanchez also implicated the bus driver.

“She goes bus C and then she makes a noise.”

“She goes “Bus C, blah” and then she gets off the bus?” says Detective Dave Phelan.

Band members called this sitting in the hot seat. They would kneel on the backseat of the bus, and cover up with a blanket to be pummeled by fists, just to earn the right to walk down the aisle of a bus and be hit again.

Drum Major Keon Hollis followed Sanchez that night.

“I think you do it for acceptance, to be accepted, and to gain the respect of your peers. It’s one of those types of things,” Hollis says.

And he described his hazing in detail.

“They were using hands, straps, I saw a cone,” Hollis recalls.

“A cone?”


“Like a big orange cone?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Slaps or punches?”


Band members say hazing was voluntary. An autopsy report also shows he was free from drugs and alcohol that night.

Few of those interviewed voluntarily identified other participants the first time they were asked by investigators, further highlighting the culture of secrecy around the hazing ritual.