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Newsletter > November 2021 > "NIC Responds to 60 MINUTES Story"
NIC Responds to 60 MINUTES Story
Tim Burke, Fraternal Law Partners, email@example.com
On Sunday November 28th 60 MINUTES featured story described the terrible alcohol fueled hazing related death of Sam Martinez. It was a terrible tragedy. The actions leading to his death violated the law, university rules and the policies and regulations of the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO), the fraternity he was joining.
The 60 MINUTES story appeared to place responsibility for illegal hazing and alcohol abuse on national fraternities, failing to even include any of an interview with Judson Horras, the CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and cutting ATO’s CEO Wynn Smiley’s responses to minimize all of the efforts national fraternities and sororities engaged in to stamp out hazing.
Shortly after the story ran, NIC issued the following statement to provide those details:
Tonight, 60 Minutes ran a segment on the tragic death of Sam Martinez. Our condolences go to Sam’s family as we continue the fight to end hazing.
As an important stakeholder for fraternities, we want to ensure that you know about fraternities’ efforts to combat hazing through increased education, transparency and most importantly, accountability.
When NIC leadership communicated with 60 Minutes in July, the producers said the segment’s intended focus was to raise awareness of hazing and educate viewers on how fraternities and universities were addressing hazing. With this aim, NIC CEO Judson Horras agreed to sit down with Anderson Cooper to interview for the program.
Following his interview, the NIC shared thorough information with producers to ensure they had key facts as they prepared their segment. Unfortunately, the broadcast didn’t include much of this information or Jud’s interview, which focused on the progress our member fraternities — including Alpha Tau Omega — and the Anti-Hazing Coalition are making to directly address the concerns the segment raised.
Here’s the critical information missing from tonight’s broadcast:
With almost half of high school students exposed to hazing and 55% of college students involved in clubs, athletics and organizations experience hazing, it is on all of us to educate all students on the danger. Hazing and hazing deaths have been documented since long before the United States was founded with one of the first documented U.S. deaths in 1737.
The sheer scale and longevity of this societal problem clearly demonstrates that having anti-hazing policies, advisors, reporting hotlines, and education on its dangers are important to moving the needle, but are not enough. To impact this issue, we must recognize this is misconduct of individual students. Individuals who haze must feel impactful penalties.
To further address the issue, we formed the Anti-Hazing Coalition in 2018 as a collaboration of the North American Interfraternity Conference the National Panhellenic Conference and parents whose children were tragically killed by acts of hazing. The Coalition now includes nine additional interfraternal associations, hazing experts and higher education partners. Through our Coalition, fraternities and sororities are educating and advocating at both state and federal levels for tougher anti-hazing laws.
We’ve championed federal legislation to increase transparency around collegiate hazing incidents. The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act and End All Hazing Acts would require colleges and universities to annually publish hazing incidents on their websites for all student organizations and teams, just as they do for other critical safety information required under the Clery Act.
For the past three years, the NIC and our Coalition have helped organize thousands of alumni, students and parents to actively lobby Congress in-person and virtually for passage of both Acts. To our knowledge, we are the only coalition that has invested resources at this scale focused on strengthening federal and state hazing laws.
The state level is where we can best impact criminal law. Our Coalition worked with prosecutors, legislators and parents to develop model state legislation to strengthen accountability for individuals, organizations or campuses involved in hazing.
Coalition lobbying efforts have thus far resulted in stricter hazing laws in Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana. In Ohio for example where NIC President and CEO Judson Horras testified to urge passage, Collin’s law broadens the definition to hazing, increases penalties, requires reporting of hazing to authorities, and mandates education for all students and advisors.
The Coalition is also committed to education around hazing. Our parents’ programs in the last three years have provided education to over 130,000 college students on more than 100 campuses and virtually. It is critical to build a culture that empowers students with “if you see something, say something.”
Our efforts to educate and advocate continue. We are seeking to better inform our efforts with upcoming research studies around hazing through the Postsecondary Education Research Center (PERC) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform at Penn State.
In addition to our anti-hazing efforts, all members of the North American Interfraternity Conference came together to pass new, critical health and safety standards that built upon existing fraternal prevention efforts and programs. Three important measures included implementing medical Good Samaritan policies, raising the bar for health and safety programming and addressing alcohol abuse. A further effort, which went into effect in 2019, is a hard alcohol prohibition in fraternity chapter facilities and events.
Hazing, or bullying as it is sometimes known to younger students, has been a pervasive issue across this country for centuries. Rather than ignore it or shift responsibility for change to others, fraternities are leading in efforts to make an impact for a safer campus community. We invite other organizations to work with us to change the culture.
The members of the North American Interfraternity Conference Governing Council