U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) has announced plans to introduce an anti-hazing bill to the House of Representatives when Congress reconvenes from its winter recess this month.
The bill comes after the November death of Robert Champion, 26, who died after being beaten in a hazing ritual following the Florida Classic in Orlando. Champion was found unresponsive following the ritual, and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Champion’s death is being treated as a homicide, and the investigation is ongoing.
Speaking on the bill and its necessity, Rep. Wilson put her views in simple terms. “Hazing is demeaning, dangerous and, sadly, deadly,” said Rep. Wilson. “It’s time we put an end to this horrible and humiliating ritual once and for all so that no more students suffer the way that Robert and others have.”
Some students feel that although hazing may be a part of campus organizations, there are still limits to its role. “Hazing is how organizations get closer, but hazing shouldn’t be so severe that it kills,” said Florida A&M student Olyvia Davis, a second-year chemical engineering student.
During Congress’s recess, Rep. Wilson has prepared for the bill’s introduction. “I am having policy discussions now with presidents of historically black colleges and universities, band members and presidents of Greek organizations so that we will be able to craft a strong bill for introduction next month,” Rep. Wilson said in December.
With Wilson planning to present the bill to Congress this spring, Danielle Sutton, a second year political science student, said “it’s a good idea, but I do find it insane that it’s only now being brought up at the national level.”
A native Floridian, Rep. Wilson is in a unique position to introduce this bill. From 1992 to 1998, she served on the Miami-Dade County School Board after holding various posts of authority in Miami’s public education system. Rep. Wilson has also moved against hazing before. In her four years as South Atlantic Regional Director for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Rep. Wilson took a public stance against hazing not only within the sorority but throughout all college campuses.
The House of Representatives reconvenes for its second session Jan. 17 following Martin Luther King Jr. Day.