Earlier this month, Attorney David Bianchi spoke to nearly 2,000 students and faculty at universities throughout Florida, including Florida State University, University of Miami, the University of Central Florida, and Florida International University. The presentations earned media attention, including from The Florida Bar News. They report that his talk centered around the dangers of hazing, how to identify and prevent hazing, and what to do if students witness hazing; more specifically, his talk addressed student's rights and responsibilities under Andrew's Law, a new addition to Florida's anti-hazing statute. Bianchi wrote both the original statute and its amendment.
While hazing can occur in any kind of group setting, hazing is especially a problem in Greek life, where enduring cruelty is often treated as a 'rite of passage.' The Florida Bar News reports that Mr. Bianchi's presentation pointed out that "victim consent" is not a defense under the hazing statute. Many student fraternity leaders attended the presentations, which hopefully addresses fraternity practices at the source.
The Death of Andrew Coffey, Two Years Later
Andrew's Law was written and named after Andrew Coffey, a Florida State University student who was a pledge at Pi Kappa Phi in the fall 2017 semester. Andrew died on November 2nd, 2017 during a fraternity tradition where he was instructed to drink an entire bottle of bourbon. When he needed medical attention, fraternity members left him on a couch to ‘sleep it off.’ Within hours, he was dead. When they found him the next morning, it still took fraternity members 11 minutes to deliberate before deciding to call 911.
Two years later, a statewide effort from lawmakers, parents, and school administrators has led to a powerful anti-hazing movement. The movement's effort has yielded a new law with bipartisan support and three fraternity suspensions this year alone. However, as students graduate and new students take their place, awareness campaigns like Mr. Bianchi's will be even more necessary to change the culture of hazing on university campuses.Read the full Florida Bar report here.