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David Bianchi's Stance on the University of Miami Hazing

In the wake of the disturbing hazing incident involving the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Miami, the spotlight has once again turned to the enduring battle against hazing. At the forefront of this battle is David Bianchi, an attorney known nationwide as a leader in hazing litigation. Through recent interviews with the Miami Herald, CBS Miami, and NBC 6 South Florida, Bianchi has provided critical insights into the legal ramifications of the incident and the broader implications for anti-hazing efforts.

How Criminal Prosecution Plays a Part in the UM Hazing Incident

David Bianchi, renowned for his expertise in hazing law, shed light on the legal aspects of the incident during his dialogue with CBS Miami. In his interview, Bianchi explained that “under Florida’s criminal hazing statute, that is not a form of hazing that is going to result in any form of criminal prosecution because the outcome is such, fortunately, that there is not serious personal injury or death—and, based on what I saw in the video, what they were doing to that guy is not likely to cause serious injury or death.”

However, Bianchi elaborated in his conversation with NBC 6 that just because the hazing incident does not rise to the level of criminal behavior, per the current statute, it does not mean it is not dangerous.

Drawing from decades of experience, Bianchi highlighted the slippery slope of seemingly innocuous hazing rituals. He warned of the potential for such activities to escalate into dangerous or even fatal scenarios, underlining the imperative to address even "mild forms" of hazing with utmost seriousness.

"You need to send a message to the fraternities that hazing, even in mild forms, will not be tolerated because if this had happened at night, rather than during the daytime, I'll bet you the milk would have been alcohol, and the alcohol would have produced bad results. Then it would be a violation of Florida's criminal statute," said Bianchi. "You can quickly have these things devolve into something much worse, and somebody will be seriously injured or die."

The Importance of Institutional Action & a Call for Proactive Measures

Despite the limitations of criminal law in this context, Bianchi has continued to emphasize the critical role of university and fraternity policies in addressing such behavior. He stated that both the University of Miami and the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity would likely take disciplinary action, given the apparent violation of their anti-hazing policies. This stance reinforces the importance of strong institutional frameworks and policies in deterring harmful hazing practices.

Bianchi revisited the case of Chad Meredith with NBC 6. Chad’s hazing death led to the enactment of the Chad Meredith Act—Florida's cornerstone anti-hazing legislation. This law, which Bianchi helped shape, marked a significant advancement in the fight against hazing by eliminating the defense of victim consent and expanding the definition of hazing activities beyond officially sanctioned fraternity events.

"The fraternities would have a defense that said, 'Hey, we didn't sponsor this late-night swim at four o'clock in the morning. Therefore, it's not a fraternity event. Therefore, it should not be hazing,'" said Bianchi. "We took care of that by making a change to the law so they can no longer raise that defense."

A Legacy of Advocacy & Change

David Bianchi's involvement in these discussions is not just as a legal expert but as a passionate advocate for change regarding hazing. His efforts have not only led to significant legal reforms but have also raised awareness about the critical need for vigilance and proactive measures against hazing.

The recent incident at the University of Miami is a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done.

It is clear the fight against hazing requires a multifaceted approach involving legal action, policy reform, and cultural change in institutions. Through continued advocacy, education, and enforcement of anti-hazing laws, we can strive toward a safer, more inclusive environment for all students.