TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida A&M students and graduates say they hope the charges announced in the hazing-related death of Robert Champion help bring some closure for his family, as well as the university.
The FAMU campus was quiet Wednesday following graduation ceremonies over the weekend. A few students walked on campus as the school's flag waved the university's motto: "Excellence with Caring."
Students said they were thinking about the family of Robert Champion as prosecutors charged 13 people in connection with his death.
Ade Oladokun just graduated from FAMU and on Wednesday he celebrated by wearing his graduation gown and posing for pictures in front of Coleman Library. Asked about the charges in the Champion case, Oladokun was hopeful.
"I feel like it's going to help the school and help the family get some peace. It's been a hard thing for the whole school to go through with the band being on probation but I think it's going to help put an end to the chapter and I hope to begin a new chapter at FAMU."
Nakeba Hoo, who also just graduated, felt some relief from news of the charges. She said she was thinking of Champion's family.
"I'm glad they did make some charges. I hope that the family is OK and relieved that the charges have finally been made."
FAMU grad and former state Senator Al Lawson said Champion's death and the hazing problems at the school cast a dark cloud over the university and the state of Florida.
Lawson hopes the charges prompt positive changes.
"This is the first step and I think the other steps that come after this will do a great deal to convince people, not only at Florida A&M University and across the state of Florida and across the country that hazing is wrong and should not take place."
No one in FAMU's administration would talk on camera about the new criminal charges in the Champion case. Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Avery McKnight issued a statement saying, "Upon further administrative and legal review of any and all documents publicly released or shared, Florida A&M University will move with all deliberate speed to initiate proceedings against those involved as appropriate and to the fullest extent lawfully possible."
First Coast News