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FAMU suspends dance team after new hazing allegation

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:33 PM EDT, Tue September 4, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A parent's anonymous tip sparks a new investigation at the school
  • Official: A dance team allegedly conducted hazing involving alcohol and "running up hills"
  • Interim university president: "We have zero tolerance for hazing"
  • The suspension comes less than a year after a drum major died after a hazing ritual

(CNN) -- A student dance team at Florida A&M University was suspended Tuesday after a parent reported that hazing had occurred at an off-campus event, the school said in a statement.

An anonymous tip from a parent Tuesday afternoon alleged that the Torque Dance Team had been involved in a "hazing incident" over Labor Day weekend, the statement said.

The all-female dance team allegedly conducted hazing involving alcohol consumption and "running up hills," university spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said.

The dance team's suspension comes less than a year after a drum major in the school's high-profile marching band died after a post-game hazing ritual.

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"The university takes very seriously any allegation of hazing and has moved quickly to shut the organization down pending the outcome of an investigation," said Larry Robinson, the university's interim president, in a statement.

Previously on CNN.com: FAMU president resigns in wake of hazing death

"We have zero tolerance for hazing. It's deplorable and will not be tolerated. It is unconscionable that a student organization would participate in any hazing activity considering what has transpired in the past year," Robinson added.

The university has launched an investigation based on the parent's report, the statement said, and campus police and administrators have been notified.

The November 2011 death of 26-year-old drum major Robert Champion, who died after being beaten during a hazing ritual on a band bus after a football game in Orlando, Florida, drew national attention.

The ritual, called "Crossing Bus C," was an initiation process in which pledges attempt to run down the center aisle while being assaulted by senior members, according to some university band members.

An autopsy found "extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back," and "evidence of crushing of areas of subcutaneous fat," the medical examiner reported, ruling the death a homicide.

A police investigation resulted in charges against 14 people. Eleven face one count of third-degree felony hazing resulting in death. Each also is accused of two counts of first-degree misdemeanor hazing. Three people each face a single count of misdemeanor first-degree hazing.

Band members say FAMU drum major gave in to hazing

FAMU said it took steps to eradicate the problem of hazing after Champion's death, and the the board of trustees approved an anti-hazing plan that includes an independent panel of experts to investigate hazing allegations.

Since then, the band director has retired, the university's president has stepped down and the marching band has been suspended through the 2012-2013 school year.

In July, Champion's parents filed a lawsuit against the school's board of trustees, the company that owns the bus in which the abuse occurred and the bus driver.

CNN's Nigel Walwyn contributed to this report.

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