Advocate says hazing often happens in 'public eye'

Advocate Elizabeth Allan warned Tuesday that hazing often happens in the public eye, saying both students and communities at large need to be able to recognize the warning signs.

“We are not only working with students who are joining these groups,” Allan, an executive director of advocacy group Stop Hazing, told Hill.TV, referring to various student organizations like fraternities and sororities where hazing is known to occur. “But also the general community because often, hazing occurs in the public eye.”

“There are many people, potential bystanders, who could help by intervening and interrupting the activity or reporting to the police or campus officials,” she added.

The Florida state Senate on Tuesday passed a bipartisan bill expanding the state’s hazing laws by an overwhelming 36-0 vote. State Rep. Chip LaMarca (R) has introduced a companion bill in the House.

The Senate bill expands the definition of hazing and makes it a third degree felony when resulting in death or serious injury.

Florida is now just one of 10 states that treats hazing as a crime. Forty-four states have some form of anti-hazing laws in place. 

Allan emphasized that the new legislation also includes important amnesty clauses that grants immunity to those seeking help for hazing victims in need of medical attention.

“Some students report that they were afraid to call because they thought they were going to get in trouble themselves or get their group in trouble, so having the clause will help students [stop] from hesitating,” she told Hill.TV.

Allan added that she’s hopeful that the initiative will help raise more awareness to combat the problem, citing a “groundswell support” from national organizations across the country.

—Tess Bonn