Articles Posted in Hazing

College-Campus-150x150College should be an experience full of adventure, learning, and growing for students. Unfortunately for some of these students, the college experience is ruined by immature and mean-spirited acts of hazing in fraternities and sororities.  There are physical and psychological effects from such hazing events.  In 2019, the Florida legislature passed a new set of Hazing Laws that could apply to situations that take in place in fraternities and sororities.

Law makers are cracking down on hazing across the country, but in Florida especially. The laws have evolved with the unfortunate nature of hazing. It should be noted that the absence from a particular hazing event is no longer looked at as a lack of involvement in the eyes of law enforcement. Even if an individual was not physically present at the hazing event, if he or she helped plan it, he or she can be subject to criminal charges. While this provision will most likely affect organization leaders, the new law could also hold school administrator’s responsible. This new provision is meant to act as a catch-all regardless of an individual’s level of involvement, as in the past general chapter members have gotten away with hazing, while only the heavily involved and officers were charged.

The new law is called Andrew’s Law, named after Andrew Coffey, a Florida State Univesity student who died in 2017 from alcohol poisoning. He was participating in a fraternity ritual where he was required to drink an entire fifth of alcohol, following the instructions from his “big brother”. Andrew was 20 years old when he died with a blood alcohol level nearly six times the legal limit, after falling into unconsciousness and being left alone until the next day. Florida State Univesity’s Greek Life program was altered by the school’s president after Andrew’s death.  The Chad Meredith Act was also signed in 2005 following the hazing death of a University of Miami student who died tragically in a fraternity hazing incident in 2001. The Act made hazing a first-degree misdemeanor and a third-degree felony if a victim was seriously injured or killed.

Hazing-Fraternity-Sorority-150x150In the State of Florida, it is a crime for a person to haze another person.  It is not a defense to the action if the hazing, abuse, or pressure is connected to admission, entry, or membership into an organization, club, fraternity, or sorority.  It should be noted that the crime of hazing is different from a prior and element standpoint than a civil case on behalf of a victim subjected to hazing acts like physical abuse or drinking games that lead to serious injury or even death of the victim, pledge, or applicant.  With respect to a civi case involving negligence or abusive conduct, there are four elements to establish:

Duty;

Breach of Duty;

education%20corporal%20punishment%20paddling%20excessive%20wooden.jpgStudents join fraternities and sororities at universities and colleges to be part of an organization to be part of campus life. From sports to academics to socials, the fraternity and sorority experience can be quite positive and beneficial for the students. Unfortunately, many chapters of various fraternities and sororities have traditions of hazing that have been in place for years. The tradition of hazing can be and is dangerous to the students. Many hazing incidents lead to serious personal injuries and even the deaths of students. Any act which aims to harm and / or humiliate a student can be deemed an act of hazing. When a student is hazed, the student and / or parents should review the university policies and procedures as well as the state laws on point. At times, law enforcement and / or university officials are contacted about hazing incidents. One way to stop or at least prevent the incidents of hazing is to report these acts and let the officials take steps to discipline or punish the wrongdoers.

The day and age of paddling should be over. The use of paddles should be banned. Paddling is often associated with corporal punishment in public and private schools. It is also associated to some extent with fraternity and sorority tradition. It was reported by the Gainesville Sun that members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity have been accused of hazing activities relating to paddling and thunderslap incidents. A police report was completed by the University of Florida Police Department. Charges have been filed against 10 fraternity members. See University of Florida – Alpha Phi Alpha – Paddling Incidents.

When a child / student is injured or harmed as a result of hazing or another incident, it is often times helpful to discuss the matter with a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for advice, consultation, and legal representation. A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer can advise the student and / or parents about the rights of the student / child and the laws in place that allow for the pursuit and collection of compensation for personal injuries.

Education%20school%20day%20care%20red%20school%20house.jpgIn Florida, children enrolled in elementary, middle, and high schools are at risks for hazing incidents. Even when a child enters and goes to college, a child is still at risks for injuries (both physical and psychological) from hazing related events and rituals.

When personal injuries result from hazing related activities, a Florida Child Injury Lawyer can represent the child in a claim or case against the school and, in some instances, the homeowner’s insurance for other children involved in the bullying activities. The legal and insurance issues involving in hazing related personal injury cases can be extremely complicated. Because of this, it is often times helpful to have legal representation to enforce the rights of the child victim of bullying.

Florida enacted Section 1006.135, Florida Statutes in an effort to prevent or reduce the incidents of hazing. This Florida criminal statute makes certain hazing activities of third degree felony or a first degree misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case.

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Following the recent death of Robert Champion and the recent reports of other hazing incidents, FAMU had plans to review the anti-Hazing rules in place for the university. This review has been postponed at this time. FAMU and investigators have their hands full investigating the circumstances surroundind the death of Robert Champion. Furthermore, investigators and university officials are also busy fielding other complaints and reports of hazing involving the FAMU Marching 100. Following the death of Robert Champion, it was reported by the Associated Press thatt four students were dismissed from FAMU but details were not released as the reasons or circumstances involving the dismissal of these FAMU students. See FAMU Postpones Review of Anti-Hazing Rules.

Hazing unfortunately had a tradition at FAMU. It is also seen at other college bands, teams, fraternities, and clubs. Hazing typically involving physical and mental abuse of a recruit or applicant. Good judgment is lacking in many acts of hazing and the hazing results in serious personal injury, mental anguish, and, in some cases, death.