27 Jackson State Students Suspended for Band Hazing PDF Print E-mail
By Denise Black -- Black College Wire   

Twenty-seven Jackson State University students in the Sonic Boom of the South have been suspended for two years following judicial hearings this week that found them guilty of hazing and moral turpitude.

Along with 25 members of the percussion section, two former members also received letters,  this morning, Sept. 30, informing them they have been suspended for two years.

Kenon White for Black College Wire
Two-year suspensions given to some band members
The suspensions follow an investigation by the JSU Department of Public Safety concerning an off-campus hazing incident that left one student injured.

According to Dr. Marcus Chanay, JSU associate vice president for student life, the hazing incident took place off campus Sept. 18th around 12:20 a.m. after band practice.  The investigation revealed that freshmen were told to meet off High and State streets, and to wear blue jeans with gym shorts underneath.  All freshmen were instructed to line up from shortest to tallest and link up in a line interlocking one arm around the neck and waist of the person in front of them. 

At this undisclosed location, the freshmen reported that they were assaulted by upperclassmen and former band members with 2x4s, pipes, baseball bats, paddles, sticks, mallets, beer bottles, and a chair which caused swelling of limbs scratches, bruises, abrasions and fractures.

 “I was very disappointed and disgusted,” said Chanay. “ The band is supposed to be a family.”

Chanay added that it was hard to get information pertaining to the Sept. 18 incident from the freshmen because many were afraid to talk, fearing retaliation.

“While we are very disappointed this event of hazing took place, we hope the suspension sends a message to all current and future members of the Sonic Boom as well fraternities and sororities that hazing is simply unacceptable,” he added.

The punishment for the freshmen involved in the hazing allegations will not be as severe as the ones found guilty of hazing. Many of the freshmen are being charged with failure to comply with university policy, which will results in fines.

Students have 24 hours after notification to appeal any sanction imposed by the Disciplinary Committee.

Jacobi Thompson, a senior mass communications major from Thomasville, Ala., is one of the students who received a letter informing him of his suspension. Thompson plans to appeal the sanction because he feels the ruling was unjust.

 “In my situation there was no way I could tell them any concrete evidence because I had nothing to do with it. I felt they did not think about every individual student in their ruling,” Thompson said.

“If you didn’t give them the information they were looking for, they assumed you to be guilty. I understand the student conduct policy, but nobody was there to stand up for us,” he said.

Not everyone agreed with Thompson’s assertion of unfairness.

Reginald Castilla, director of the Upward Bound program at JSU, works with some young high school band students who aspire to come to the university.  He said the incident sheds a negative light on JSU.

“For the 27 suspended, the punishment may be sufficient, but for the overall band program, it does very little to stop the bigger problem of hazing.”

The remaining members of the Sonic Boom will perform this Saturday, Oct. 3 at Veterans Memorial Stadium for the Southern vs. Jackson State game.

Denise Black writes for The Blue & White Flash, the Jackson State University student newspaper, which originally published this article.

Posted Sep. 30, 2009
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