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Newsletter > June 2017 > "Congressional Hazing Bill Has Greek Support"
Congressional Hazing Bill Has Greek Support
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
On June 16th, Republican Congressman Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, and Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio, introduced the Report and Educate about Campus Hazing (REACH) Act in the United States Congress. If adopted, the bill will require that instances of hazing be reported as a part of the college’s annual crime report now made under the Clery Act.
In introducing the bill, Meehan said “By requiring colleges and universities to report hazing as a part of their annual crime reports, we can better understand the extent of the problem, and encourage administrators to partner with students to reduce risky behavior.”
Congresswoman Fudge said “accurate college reporting will provide the data we need to develop legislative solutions for administrators and faculty and protect our nation’s college students.”
Both the National Panhellenic Conference and the North American Interfraternity Conference responded positively to the proposed legislation. Dani Weatherford, the Executive Director of NPC, said:
“No single piece of legislation can eradicate hazing on campus, but it can ensure that students, administrators and parents have access to the tools and information they need to hold organizations and campuses accountable. The battle against hazing is not a problem for fraternities alone, but a call to action for all campus-based organizations-including the sorority community. We stand with elected leaders, campus officials and students nationwide as committed partners in this fight.”
On behalf of the NIC, Judd Horras, the President and CEO said:
“Research shows hazing prevention is best accomplished through comprehensive measures, including proactive education, transparency and accountability around standards. The North American Interfraternity Conference backs the REACH Act because it focuses on these critical strategies. NIC member fraternities stand united in providing positive hazing-free, meaningful rights of passage that strengthen and develop young men. We commend co-sponsors Reps. Meehan and Fudge for their leadership in facing this problem.”
The bill defines hazing as:
“… any intentional, knowing or reckless act committed by a student, a former student, of an institution of higher education, whether individually or in concert with other persons, against another student, that –
(i) was committed in connection with an initiation into, an affiliation with, or the maintenance of membership in, any organization that is affiliated with such institution of higher education; and
(ii) contributes to a substantial risk of physical injury, mental harm or personal degradation or causes physical injury, mental harm or personal degradation.”
The definition is modeled on the existing Arizona law defining hazing.
In addition to requiring that incidents of hazing be reported, the bill also requires that institutions of higher education provide an educational program, including information on hazing awareness, hazing prevention and the institution’s policies on hazing.
The introduction of the bill was also greeted positively by the president of Penn State, President Eric J. Barron, who, reflecting on the death of Timothy Piazza, said “our support for this legislation aligns with our commitment to implement significant reforms as a leader in ensuring the safety and well-being of our student, and of the entire university community.”
Whether this bill will ultimately be adopted by Congress, perhaps as a part of the education act re-authorization, remains to be seen, but it is yet another sign that the issue of hazing is of wide spread concern, which is only sharpened by events at Penn State. That should surprise no one. The brotherhood and sisterhood so vital to the fraternity experience must not be built on practices long ago prohibited by national and international Greek organizations, which place new members in physical or mental jeopardy.