The suspension went into effect on Monday, and it means members of the drum line are not allowed to participate in any band-related activities until further notice.
Drum lines in marching bands at historically black colleges and universities such as NCCU are known for their crowd-pleasing stick work and rhythmic antics.
NCCU’s football team will drop in on Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday when it plays Duke in the Bull City Gridiron Classic. Sound Machine is scheduled to perform, but the band will be without its drum line.
“NCCU has a zero-tolerance policy on hazing,” according to a statement from NCCU. “Hazing is a criminal behavior, as well as a direct violation of the university’s Student Code of Conduct and North Carolina General Statutes.”
Former Sound Machine tuba player Delbert Jarmon, after reading an online story from another media outlet about the situation, said he is growing eager to find out exactly what NCCU having no tolerance for hazing means for the drum line.
“I’m very curious to see what the outcome is going to be,” Jarmon said. “This is the heartbeat of the band.”
Jarmon’s son, Jalen, is a Sound Machine tuba player.
The allegations against Sound Machine’s drum line come after the hazing-related death of Florida A&M University drum major Robert Champion.
Champion died in November 2011 after participating in an initiation ritual that entailed getting beaten by other members of FAMU’s band. The beating occurred on a bus in Orlando, Fla.
A number of FAMU band members face criminal charges, and the situation led James Ammons to step down as president of FAMU.
Ammons used be NCCU’s chancellor.
FAMU is included in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by Champion’s family, but FAMU representatives said Champion, a 26-year-old man, knew what he was getting into.
Late last year, NCCU formed a task force to review the university’s guidelines on hazing, according to the statement from the school. NCCU created a committee on hazing, bullying and student harassment that is charged with developing new guidelines and strategies to ensure the campus is free from hazing and student abuse, the statement said.
Delbert Jarmon said he was unable to reach his son by phone during the day on Wednesday, probably because Jalen Jarmon was at band practice. Delbert Jarmon said he wants to ask his son if he’s been hazed and find out what he knows about the allegations against the members of Sound Machine’s drum line.
“I will definitely have a conversation with him,” Delbert Jarmon said. “If it was my child who got hazed, somebody at North Carolina Central University’s band would be seeing my face, and they would not be happy.”
During the 2011 football season, a couple of Sound Machine band members were escorted from the field at NCCU’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium after a dustup involving Savannah State University football players.
Some of the Sound Machine musicians perceived disrespect when Savannah State’s players cut through the band’s formation on the way off the field after warm-ups. A Sound Machine drum major raised his baton to fend off football players protected by their big pads and helmets.
Law-enforcement officials and NCCU leaders prevented the situation from getting out of control. Nobody was arrested, but the matter was referred to NCCU’s student judicial council.
Recently retired NCCU chancellor Charlie Nelms, who was in charge when the Sound Machine members got into that scrap, was appalled at the conduct of the band members.
Some NCCU fans were cheering for the band members during the skirmish with the football players.
“If that’s what we need to do to have a band, then we won’t have a band,” Nelms said days after the Savannah State game.