Hazing, defined as initiating someone into a college fraternity by demanding humiliating performances or playing rough practical jokes, is an escalating concern on college and university campuses across America.
This issue has led to fatalities and, in the case of Danny Santulli of Eden Prairie, life-long bodily harm.
Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, are co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill in the Senate to tackle this crisis. A similar bill is progressing through the House.
The proposed legislation known as the “Stop Campus Hazing Act” mandates that hazing incidents be included in a college or university’s annual crime report.
It also requires institutions to establish a research-based program to educate students about hazing dangers. Additionally, the bill aims to enhance transparency and accountability by providing detailed information about a college’s hazing history to parents and students.”
“When parents send their kids away to college, they expect they will get a good education and make new friends. Unfortunately, hazing is a dangerous — and at times deadly — reality, and we must work to end it,” stated Klobuchar, in an October press release announcing the proposed legislation. “Our bipartisan legislation will improve hazing prevention efforts on college campuses as well as reporting of hazing incidents to make sure we have the information we need to stop this abuse and keep students safe.”
Tom and Mary Pat Santulli of Eden Prairie, whose son Danny was a freshman two years ago at the University of Missouri, experienced the devastating effects of hazing firsthand. While pledging Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, Danny was forced to drink excessive amounts of vodka, leading to a near-fatal blood alcohol level of 0.46.
“We are in strong support of this effort,” Tom Santulli said. “We have met with Sen. Klobuchar and her staff on several occasions and look forward to it being passed in Congress and signed into law.”
In Klobuchar’s press release announcing the proposed legislation, the Santullis noted that Oct. 19 marked two years since the “horrific hazing event that drastically altered our son Danny’s life, leaving him unable to walk, talk, or see.”
The Santullis said it changed Danny’s future and the lives of their family forever.
“We think of how this bill would have saved Danny from this tragedy if it was passed before he entered college,” they stated. “As parents, we would have been so much more informed of what fraternity Danny was looking at.”
They added that this bill will give transparency and insight to “parents like us,” who need to be informed of the organizations on college campuses today.
“This bill could have prevented Danny’s tragedy, and we are convinced it will save lives,” they stated.
Klobuchar expressed confidence about the bill’s prospects.
“We are optimistic this (will) be passed by both houses and on the president’s desk by the end of the year or the first few weeks of 2024, to be signed into law,” Klobuchar said. “We expect it to be a game-changer when it comes to hazing.”
The Santullis are in contact with Gary and Julie DeVeracelly of Long Beach, California, prominent advocates for the bill, following the hazing-related death of their son, Gary Jr., at Rider College in New Jersey several years ago.
“We are delighted this is happening because it is a national crisis,” Gary DeVeracelly stated.
Statistics indicate that there has been at least one hazing-related death annually in the U.S. since 1959.
To learn more about Danny Santulli’s story, click on this in-depth report by the Columbia Missourian.
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