Cassidy, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Address Hazing on College Campuses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Bob Casey (D-PA) reintroduced legislation to address hazing on college campuses. The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act would require hazing incidents to be reported as part of a college’s annual crime report and establish a definition of hazing to clarify what constitutes a reportable offense. The legislation would also require institutions to establish a campus-wide, research-based program to educate students about the dangers of hazing.

“Education and accountability are required to end hazing. The REACH Act does," said Dr. Cassidy. "This keeps students safer which increases parents peace of mind.”

On Tuesday, Cassidy, Casey, Lucy McBath (D-GA-06) and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) reintroduced the End All Hazing Act to provide parents and prospective students with better information about universities’ histories of hazing in an effort to increase transparency and accountability in hazing nationwide. The bill would require colleges and universities to post on their websites instances of hazing that took place on campus or within a student organization. Providing this information would improve transparency and assist students in making the best choices for their futures.

“Hazing is a dangerous—and at times deadly—problem on college campuses, and we must work to end it,” said Senator Klobuchar. “This legislation will require colleges and universities to include hazing as part of their annual crime reports, giving us a comprehensive and accurate understanding of hazing so we can create effective measures to address it.”

“We have a collective responsibility to protect and support Ohio students – that means addressing the hazing that pervades college campuses,” said Senator Brown. “Hazing should never be taken lightly and cannot be tolerated. By helping to lay the groundwork for students and educators to identify and report hazing, we can provide important tools to prevent this abuse in the first place.”

“Every year, hundreds of students are hurt or killed by hazing on college campuses, yet information and data of these acts often goes unreported,” said Senator Casey. “The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act would ensure hazing is appropriately reported as crimes and that students are educated on the dangers of hazing. I also want to express my sincere condolences to the Piazza and Braham families—who lost their college-age children to hazing—and thank them for their tireless advocacy to stop hazing and prevent other families from losing their loved ones to these horrific acts.”

Companion legislation is led in the House of Representatives by Representatives Lucy McBath (D-GA-06) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA-47).

“The impacts of hazing on young people across our country are heartbreaking and unacceptable, and we have a duty to ensure that schools are a safe environment for our students,” said Rep. McBath. “By setting national standards for anti-hazing programs, we can protect the health and safety of our students and ensure they learn and live in a positive, secure environment.”

“As a father, grandfather, and former professor, the wellbeing of students has always one of my top priorities. I am proud to work with Congresswoman McBath and Senator Klobuchar on this important legislation. The REACH Act would most importantly add hazing to the list of campus offenses that are disclosed in a higher education institution’s Annual Security Report. Hazing is a serious crime, and full transparency of these incidences should be made available to parents and students. The Clery Act currently does not list hazing as a reportable offense, but the REACH Act would close this loophole. My heart goes out to the families that have suffered from incidences of hazing. It is time that we take this important step to protect our students,” said Rep. Lowenthal.

“Federal legislation to address hazing is long overdue, and while we wait, lives continue to be lost. The REACH Act will help institutionalize hazing prevention and will standardize how hazing is defined, tracked, and responded to across colleges and universities,” said Jessica Mertz, Executive Director of the Clery Center.

“Passage of the REACH Act will help campus leaders send a strong and clear message that student health, safety, and well-being are vital to achieving the goals of postsecondary education,” said Dr. Elizabeth Allan, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Maine, Principal of StopHazing, and Director of the Hazing Prevention Consortium. 

“On March 30, 2007 (almost exactly 14 years ago) our oldest son Gary DeVercelly, Jr. died from a fraternity hazing ritual during Big/Little night at the age of 18. Since his death, the number of identified hazing deaths has escalated at an alarming rate. This year alone we have seen three hazing deaths in the span of one week. We see the reintroduction of the REACH Act as a giant step forward in our battle to eradicate hazing. By requiring accountability, transparency, and education this bill will transform the hazing culture. We know the REACH Act will save lives and make campuses safer. Had this bill been in effect when Gary Jr. went to college, he’d be alive today,” said Gary and Julie DeVercelly, parents of Gary DeVercelly, Jr. (09/04/1988 -03/30/2007).