REACH Act Coalition Drives Federal Anti-Hazing Legislation

The Report and Educate About Campus Hazing Act would require hazing incidents to be reported as part of a college’s annual crime statistics and establish a comprehensive hazing prevention education program.

Washington, D.C. — Clery Center, StopHazing, SAFE Campuses LLC, ZeroNow, and 34 additional national campus safety organizations are supporting the adoption of the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act, H.R. 2525 / S. 744, which would require hazing incidents to be reported as part of a college’s annual crime statistics and establish a comprehensive hazing prevention education program. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation is being led in the Senate by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and in the House by Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC). 

Parents and advocates travelled to Capitol Hill in July to share personal stories of hazing and to highlight the urgent need for federal legislation. Among those who met with lawmakers were Julie and Gary DeVercelly, Sr., parents of Gary Jr., who was killed in a fraternity hazing ritual in 2007; Cindy Hipps, mother of Tucker, killed in 2014, Kim and TJ Burch, parents of Nolan, killed in 2014, Marie André, mother of George Desdunes, killed in 2011, and Eric and Linda Oakes, parents of Adam, killed in 2021.

“We believe hazing can be prevented,” said the DeVercellys. “The more time passes before legislation is enacted, the more likely it is that students will be emotionally and physically harmed or killed by these senseless acts. Congress must move quickly to save lives.”

The DeVercellys sit on the board of the nonprofit Clery Center and have dedicated their lives to the prevention of hazing since the death of their son. Their goal is to ensure that no other parent has to experience the unbearable—and preventable—loss of a child to hazing.

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Susan Collins (R-ME) joined as co-sponsors of the Act after meeting with the group of parents and advocates. Also co-sponsoring are Virginia Democratic Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, who were galvanized by last year’s tragic hazing death of Virginia Commonwealth University student Adam Oakes and cited the importance of transparency and accountability in hazing incidents. A full list of co-sponsors in the Senate and co-sponsors in the House of Representatives can be found in the links above.

The REACH Act currently sits with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and Labor. Heartened by the broad support of the bill from both sides of the aisle, the REACH Act coalition will head back to the Hill the week of September 19. Those unable to call on their representatives in person should keep in mind that politicians have a vested interest in listening to the voters who elect them. Those who want to stop the harmful consequences of hazing that occur far too often on our college campuses can make a difference by emailing their Senators and Representatives today and urging them to pass the REACH Act now.

About ZeroNow

ZeroNow is the movement by the safety community to protect our schools. We believe all safety technology should work jointly. ZeroNow brings safety assets and education leaders together to establish the standards for school safety technology. We drive a unified voice to educate policy makers on the need for increased investment in school safety. For more information, please visit ZeroNow.org.

About Clery Center

Clery Center is a national nonprofit that has empowered colleges and universities to create safer campuses for over 35 years. With unparalleled expertise and in-depth training, resources, and strategies, we help institutions to understand and implement the Clery Act and to exemplify the spirit of the law with a proactive commitment to campus safety. Find out more at clerycenter.org.

About StopHazing

StopHazing’s mission is to promote safe and inclusive school, campus, and organizational environments through research, resource sharing, and the development of data-driven strategies for hazing prevention and the promotion of positive group climates. To learn more see stophazing.org.

About SAFE Campuses, LLC

Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, LLC (SAFE Campuses, LLC) is an independent social enterprise devoted to helping diverse communities establish safe learning environments. SAFE Campuses, LLC is comprised of multidisciplinary experts from the fields of campus public safety, student affairs, gender-based violence, alcohol and other drug abuse, and compliance with government campus safety related regulations including the Jeanne Clery Act and Title IX. For more information visit safecampuses.biz.

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