Lawmakers begin new effort in fight against hazing at colleges

The REACH Act aims to put an end to hazing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – Lawmakers are taking new steps in helping protect college students from the dangers of hazing.

Since 1970, there has been at least one hazing-related death on a college campus each year. In 95 percent of those hazing cases, students who were aware they were hazed did not report it.

So, lawmakers are trying to pass a new bill, the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act. This bill would require colleges to include any cases of hazing in their annual crime reports and specifically define what hazing is, so there’s no confusion about what is and is not acceptable for students.

Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge is one of REACH’s sponsors.

“It is my hope that the REACH Act will help prevent more families from losing loved ones, that we will curtail hazing on campuses and protect America’s students,” Fudge said.

The case at Pennsylvania State University is the latest — 18 members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity are facing charges in the death of Timothy Piazza, who died in February after a night of heavy drinking at a fraternity party.

Prosecutors say Piazza was essentially left to die by some members of the fraternity, who face charges including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.

The case has drawn more scrutiny to the practice of hazing, which isn’t limited to fraternities. The REACH Act aims to make sure this doesn’t happen to other students.

“Losing a child is more heart wrenching than you can imagine, and Gary [DeVercelly, Jr.]’s death today, even today, is a daily struggle,” said DeVercelly’s father.

DeVercelly’s death 10 years ago was similar to that of Piazza’s.

For parents who have lost a child to hazing, the bill comes too late, but they hope it will prevent other parents from going through the same terrible experience they did.