Federal Hazing Legislation Gains Broad Support Among Stakeholders


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A new bill in Congress, referred to as the “Stop Campus Hazing Act,” seeks to add a definition of hazing to the Higher Education Act and require that hazing incidents be reported in the Annual Security Reports that colleges and universities prepare each year.1 The bill also requires that institutions adopt and disclose a “comprehensive program to prevent hazing” that applies to students, staff, faculty, and other campus stakeholders, “such as alumni and families of students.” This comprehensive program must be research-based, designed and implemented by “a broad coalition” of campus stakeholders, with information about hazing awareness, prevention, reporting, and investigation. The bill also directs institutions to prepare Campus Hazing Transparency Reports that identify incidents of hazing that involve a student and resulted in “a formal finding of guilt, responsibility, or culpability” under the institution’s policies or applicable law. Each of these reports must include the following information (without being personally identifiable for any individual student):
  1. The name of the organization with which the violation that resulted in a formal finding of guilt, responsibility, or culpability, was committed in connection.
  2. A general description of the violation that resulted in a formal finding of guilt, responsibility, or culpability, the charges, the findings of the institution, and the sanctions placed on the organization.
  3. The dates on which—
    1. the incident was alleged to have occurred;
    2. the violation that resulted in a formal finding of guilt, responsibility, or culpability was charged;
    3. the investigation was initiated; and
    4. the investigation ended with a finding that a violation occurred.
The provisions of the Stop Campus Hazing Act may look familiar to college and university administrators in Ohio, as they resemble several key requirements in Collin’s Law. Collin’s Law requires, among other things, that Ohio institutions maintain and post a report of hazing violations on the institution’s publicly accessible website. These reports must include information that is similar to the information required by the Stop Campus Hazing Act. The new federal legislation and Collin’s Law are also similar in requiring that these reports be updated on a semi-annual basis.  
This is not the first time Congress has worked to pass federal legislation regarding hazing. The “Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act,” or “REACH Act” failed to advance in the Senate last year. However, according to a press release issued last week, the new bill reportedly has key support from Greek life organizations like the North American Interfraternity Conference and the National Panhellenic Conference, as well as the Clery Center, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping institutions meet their obligations under the Jeanne Clery Act. The bill is also gaining support from Senators on both sides of the aisle. To date, the Stop Campus Hazing Act has bipartisan support from seven co-sponsors: three democrats and four republicans.  
The Higher Education team at Bricker Graydon will be tracking this legislation and providing updates in our weekly Higher Education Insights Newsletter. 

1 The House of Representatives has introduced an identical bill, H.R. 5646.  Both bills have been assigned to Congressional committees for further review.

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