Anti-hazing bill to educate students after recent campus death

WASHINGTON D.C. (WSAV) – A new hazing law is being proposed in light of a recent death on a college campus.

Friday members of congress introduced a new anti-hazing bill. It’s called the REACH Act, or Reporting and Educating About Campus Hazing.

Congressman Pat Meehan, a Republican from Pennsylvania, sponsored the bill.

The proposal comes several months after Timothy Piazza, a sophomore at Penn State, died during a binge-drinking hazing incident at an off-campus frat house.

“Fifty-five percent of students will experience some form of hazing on a college campus, yet ninety-five percent will never report that,” Meehan said.

A problem he said needs to be resolved.

“Reporting will allow us to paint a more accurate picture of hazing on campuses,” Marcia Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio who’s co-sponsoring the bill, said. “It will help administrators identify problems and develop solutions and encourage students to report hazing.”

The REACH Act would require better reporting and educating about campus hazing; demand colleges keep stats on hazing incidents, much like they do on sexual assault; and teach students strategies on recognizing and reporting hazing.

The incident at Penn State is only the most recent hazing case that’s resulted in a student’s death.

Over the past decade, there have been several other cases.

There have been multiple hazing cases in South Carolina and one case in Florida that affected a Georgia college student.

Now, one family is hoping the reach act can prevent this crime.

“Losing a child is more heart-wrenching than you can imagine,” Gary Devercelly Sr., Gary Devercelly Jr’s dad, said. “And Gary’s death even today is a daily struggle.”

It’s been ten years since Devercelly’s son died from a hazing incident at Rider University and that’s not the only college that’s had problems.

“I had to hold on to the luggage things and I just had to hold onto it the whole time they were hitting me,” Lissette Sanchez, a former FAMU band member, said. “And they put a blanket over us while our head is down and it’s across our back, and then they begin to beat on our backs with sticks and mallets.”

This is an example of what one Florida A & M University student went through on a band trip in 2011.

Those same actions, from the same school and organization, resulted in the death of Robert Champion Jr. from the Atlanta area.

He was hit 100 times while walking from one end of a charter bus to another for initiation into FAMU’s band.

And Champion’s parents stopped at nothing to bring attention to the matter.

“We’ll keep coming and we’ll keep speaking out on it, until we can bring a change,” Robert Champion Sr., Champion Jr.’s father, said. “Hazing has got to stop.”

That same year an incident happened on Clemson University’s campus to a female soccer player. She was hazed and suffered serious head injuries.

Another incident happened in 2014 on the same campus when Tucker Hipps was found dead in a lake after an early-morning run with members of the fraternity he was pledging. This resulted in the “Tucker Hipps Transparency Act” signed into law last year by Governor Nikki Haley. It requires colleges to post fraternity and sorority members’ conduct violations on their websites.

Over at Viginia Tech, the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was punished and suspended for ten years for a hazing incident last year.

“Allegations or suggestions of students doing harm to other students, hazing is often attributed to fraternities, we take those allegations very seriously,” a representative from the school said.

If you would like more information on the REACH Act, click here.