Will an Anti-Hazing Law Make Any Difference?

December 28, 2011  |  

Moved by the recent death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson says she plans to introduce a federal anti-hazing bill when Congress returns from its holiday break next month.

In Champion’s case, police say he was punched and paddled in a hazing ritual during the school’s Marching 100 band trip to the annual Florida Classic in Orlando. An autopsy report showed that the 26-year-old’s “muscles were beaten so badly that they were destroyed like you would see in a heart attack.” So far, the Marching 100 has been suspended from all activities and its director placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s investigation but Wilson says overall, hazing is demeaning, dangerous, deadly, and needs to be stopped.

The question is whether a law would do any good? Most colleges and universities have policies prohibiting hazing as a means of granting students entrance into fraternities, sororities, and other campus organizations yet the practice still goes on. Some groups get suspended for a semester, maybe even a year, but when the next opportunity rolls around, hazing resumes and vows of silence and solidarity amongst members of these groups keep such practices from being openly exposed although the activity is well-known. So what good would a law do? It could ensure those who are caught hazing endure much stricter punishments, but for any practical change to come about, leaders of these organizations have to take a stance against hazing and truly desire to create alternative means of ushering in new members to a group that don’t threaten their well-being. As long as group members see hazing as a method of proving worth and loyalty, they will just find sneakier ways to go about it.

Do you think an anti-hazing law would stop this activity on college campuses?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • FromUR2UB

    I feel bad for people whose desire to belong is so great, that they willingly subject themselves to bullying and humiliation, just to be affiliated with some group or glorified clique.  And the people who inflict this kind of sadism upon others, are they psychopathic…psychotic?  There must be something mentally wrong with ALL of the participants of this kind of brutality.  I don’t even understand how people go along with being publicly embarrassed, much less accepting beatings???

    I can’t imagine the heartache that young man’s relatives must feel, knowing that he went off to school to better his life, yet lost it due to some unnecessary foolishness.  How do you protect the feeble-minded?  Can legislation do it?  I apologize: I don’t mean to put the young man down.  it’s just that this was so entirely preventable.  I know common sense isn’t always common, but are enough people teaching it to kids anymore…to think independently?  What a waste.

    • FAMURattler85


  • Prissy

    I attend this school as well. MOST of my close friends are in orgs and they WILLINGLY let crap happen to me. NOT me cus I will SUE or FIGHT before anyone can lay a hand on me. This place has had it coming to them for a LONG time. GOOD RIDDANCE. I hope the Champion family get their monies worth. 

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    not a damn thing because when i was in college some the adult sponsors were in on it too. . . .

  • F3ral Anarchy

    i dont even think a anti law is necessary.  In 2011 if you are sheep minded enuff to believe you need to be beaten to the brink of death to prove loyalty to a group you are just as ignorant as the group doing the beating.

    • FAMURattler85

      @F3RAL ANARCHY – well said.

  • FAMURattler85

    I don’t think the law wouldn’t change a thing. Hazing is already illegal but people still do it. However, I do believe that people who participate in it, whether they are the haze-r or haze-e, should suffer more stringent consequences. If people were getting locked up for hazing and/or being gazed, I believe there would be drop in occurrences.

    This coming from a FAMU Alum. c/o 2008

    • 2012

      My thoughts exactly.