What I Learned From the Florida A&M University Hazing Incident, and How Will This Impact My Future Library Space

Earlier this morning, I listened to a NPR snippet about Florida A&M University’s first home football game without its famous marching band. The band was suspended due to the death of a band member in the 2011 football-game season. Drum major Robert Champion was the victim of a band-hazing incident.

The University is taking a pro-active approach to deal with the aftermath of the event. Besides the suspension of the band, students are now required to sign an anti-hazing pledge. Enrollment is down at the university, compared to past years.

Some supporters and members of the community do not agree with the actions taken by the university. They are not in support of the fact the marching band was suspended; this band provided spirit and life not only to football games, but the community.

Though it is unfortunate the marching band is suspended, a flesh-and-blood person died. Actions need to be taken to provide awareness of the seriousness of the incident.

When I heard this news segment earlier on NPR, I started to wonder what sort of incidents like this might occur in a school where I am the librarian. Today, students are faced with a multitude of challenges: cyberbullying, harassment, hazing and peer pressure. The list goes on and on. Most students have been a victim, or know someone that has been a victim of bullying. Or maybe he or she is the bully.

The past few months, I have read some young-adult books that highlight these topics. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Letters From the Ledge by Lynda Meyers. So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore. These books made me feel I was not alone; the characters had similar emotions I had in middle and high school. It is so important to have books like these in the library. They are the silent comforters for students who go through similar experiences. They might encourage a student to speak out about abuse.

At my fieldwork placement, my librarian held a cyberbullying campaign. Smaller groups of students would come to the library, and sit in a circle. She addressed what cyberbullying is, who can be victims and how to get help. The small-group atmosphere was informal, and students had great conversations. This is one program I plan to implement someday.

I want to create a library environment where students can feel safe and comfortable. Where students can come to read, work on school assignments or spend time with friends. It’s important for students to have this sense of stability and security growing up. As a quieter student, the library at my school was a safe haven. I want to provide my future students the same opportunities I had going through middle and high school.

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