Four years ago this week, Andrew Coffey died tragically in a hazing incident at Florida State University. A civil engineering student in his junior year, Andrew was pledging for Pi Kappa Phi when he attended their “Big Brother Night” event on November 2, 2017. He was pressured into drinking a whole bottle of bourbon as part of a fraternity hazing ritual. The following day, he was found unresponsive on the couch. Andrew died from alcohol poisoning surrounded by nearly 100 people who never called help or even made sure he was okay.
Our firm represented the Coffey family in a hazing suit against Pi Kappa Phi and the individual fraternity officers responsible, but we didn’t stop there. David Bianchi and Michael Levine drafted and lobbied for a law to incentivize students to call for help when hazing causes serious harm. Experts called the law “groundbreaking” in its design: granting immunity to the person who calls 911 first after a hazing incident. Florida lawmakers named the bill “Andrew’s Law” in his memory before passing it with an overwhelming majority.
Now, on the fourth anniversary of Andrew’s death, FSU published information on Andrew’s Law to share his story with a new generation of students. You can read more about it here.
How to Prevent Hazing Deaths
One of the challenges of preventing hazing is the persistence of toxic fraternity culture as students cycle through college. Four years after Andrew’s death, there’s not a single student at FSU who knew Andrew or even attended the school while he was alive. No current students were present for the police investigation, experienced the year-long ban on Greek life, or attended a vigil. No one attending FSU currently ever grieved.
As Greek organizations seek recruits for the 2021–2022 school year, it’s crucial to help a new generation remember why Andrew died and how we can make sure it never happens again. FSU publishing information on Andrew’s Law is an excellent step in the right direction. We hope they continue to bring up Andrew’s Law at orientations and presentations throughout the year. Hazing became a part of Greek life through repetition and normalization; the only way to make Andrew’s Law a part of Greek life is through the same processes.