PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The preliminary hearing in the hazing case that’s ensnared a Penn State fraternity and 18 of its members is set to continue next month.
Now there’s an effort by a suburban Philadelphia congressman to prevent future tragedies like the death of Timothy Piazza.
Beta Theta Pi counts Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa. 7th District) as an alumnus. But hazing, he says, is far from confined to frats — like the PSU chapter now under scrutiny.
“Fifty-five percent of students will experience some form of hazing on a college campus,” Meehan said at a news conference on Thursday in Washington, DC. “Yet 95% of them will never report that.”
Maybe they’re athletes or members of a campus organization being subjected to a dangerous initiation. Meehan classifies hazing as “any kind of an act that constitutes a substantial risk of physical injury, mental harm, or mental degradation.”
The Republican has introduced legislation that would require colleges to define hazing; to educate students about how administrators will respond and make resources available to victims; and to report violations publicly — like schools must do with sexual assaults under the Clery Act.
The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act, H.R. 2926, is co-sponsored by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). Meehan said he’s confident the REACH Act will attract the support it needs in the House and Senate to reach the floor for a vote.
His optimism is shared by Julie DeVercelly. Her son, Gary Jr., died a decade ago after a hazing incident at Rider University.
“We believe this legislation is the biggest step toward stopping hazing by requiring transparency, accountably, and education,” she said. “Had this bill been in effect when Gary went away to college, our son would be alive today.”