Legislators step in to deter hazing
Following a succession of fraternity hazing deaths in the past several years, legislators are taking action to discourage the behavior. While most states have anti-hazing laws, only 10 make it a felony when it results in death or serious injury. In response to the death of Andrew Coffey at Florida State University in 2017, Florida’s state legislature recently passed a first-of-its-kind law that makes it easier to prosecute those who haze and provides immunity to those who seek medical assistance and remain with hazing victims until help arrives.
Texas has also strengthened its laws, recently enacting a measure that provides immunity to those who report specific incidents of hazing. The law also expands the type of information universities are required to share with students regarding incidents.
Meanwhile, at the federal level, Reps. Marcia Fudge and G.T. Thompson introduced the END ALL Hazing Act this summer. Aimed at transparency, the bill would require universities and colleges to maintain public records of hazing incidents by student organizations and cooperate immediately with law enforcement.
Rae Ann Gruver and Evelyn and Jim Piazza have educated and empowered undergraduate SigEps to end hazing at two Ruck Leadership Institutes and the Grand Chapter Conclave. Their sons were among those lost to hazing in 2017. They’ve since lobbied to get stricter hazing laws enacted in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. Much of the momentum around current legislation is due to their continuing efforts and those of other parents and the interfraternal community.
You can read about their presentation at Conclave at sigep.org/piazzagruver.
New SigEp task force will study undergraduate mental health
Today’s college students are the most connected generation to date, but research shows, also the loneliest. As a result, college students — men in particular — are at increased risk. A 2018 survey from the American College Health Association showed that 55 percent of male students had felt “very lonely” in the previous 12 months. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men have higher rates of suicide and substance abuse, but are less likely to utilize mental health services.
It’s clear that support for mental health is more critical than ever, and at Conclave, SigEp took a step to lead the fraternity world in making progress on this issue. The Grand Chapter voted to create a “task force to study the mental health of undergraduate men in fraternities.” The task force will be comprised of mental health professionals, undergraduates and university officials. By the 2021 Conclave, this group will provide “recommendations for improvements and initiatives at the campus and national levels” to support the mental health of fraternity men.