- Is a Greek Council A State Actor?
- Beware of Unconstitutional Social Media Policies
- Wise Use of Free Speech
- Federal Hazing Law Coming
- A Band Hazing May Forever Increase the Legal Consequences for Hazing Deaths
- New Law Partnership Focuses on Fraternities, Sororities and Student-Life Non-Profits
Newsletter > January 2012 > "Federal Hazing Law Coming"
Federal Hazing Law Coming
Daniel McCarthy, Manley Burke
In response to the death of Robert Champion, the Florida A & M drum major mentioned in Mr. Nuwer’s article above, United States Representative Frederica Wilson announced that she plans to introduce a federal anti-hazing bill in Congress early this year. Rep. Wilson, from Miami, stated, “Hazing is demeaning, dangerous, and, sadly, deadly. It’s time that we put an end to this horrible and humiliating ritual once and for all, so that no more students suffer the way that Robert and others have.”
Details of the proposed bill have not yet been announced. However, Rep. Wilson told several newspapers that her bill will target those who haze, those who are hazed and those who witness hazing but do not intervene.
Meanwhile, others are calling for more government action following the suicide of Private Danny Chen. Private Chen’s body was found on October 3 in a guard tower on his military base in southern Afghanistan. The military said that Private Chen died of “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.” In a highly unusual case of criminal charges in a suicide, the Army has charged eight soldiers in connection with the death, alleging they bullied Private Chen into killing himself. Of the eight men charged, seven face counts that include involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and assault. One man, a first lieutenant, is charged with dereliction of duty.
According to reports, Private Chen was dragged out of bed, hit with rocks, was subject to racial taunts and forced to crawl along the ground and do exercises without swallowing or spitting out a mouthful of water. The abuse of Private Chen was apparently because he forgot to turn off a water heater after taking a shower.
The deaths of Mr. Champion and Private Chen both received a great deal of national press. These unfortunate and unnecessary deaths reminded the public that hazing is not just a Greek problem. With the extensive press coverage, passage of a federal hazing law has become much more likely at some point in the very near future.
If a federal hazing law is enacted, it will become imperative for Greek organizations to become familiar with the definitions, prohibitions and penalties set forth in any such law. Given that 46 states currently have hazing laws, practically every institution prohibits hazing and every Greek organization explicitly prohibits hazing, it is important to keep the various definitions and penalties clear.
Fraternal Law will update this story as the bill progresses through Congress.