Students react to state's effort to expand anti-hazing law

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By: Katie Kaplan | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 13, 2019

(Image Source: MGN)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – More than a year after Florida State University fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey died during an off-campus hazing incident, the impact of his passing is still felt.

Florida lawmakers are now working to expand the state's anti-hazing law. A new measure passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday.

Coffey's parents have been outspoken in the wake of his November 2017 death.

"We are haunted by the image of Andrew being left alone in a room, unable to get help on his own and without a single brother coming to his aid," his mother said in court in 2018.

They spoke to the Legislature this week before the bill passed the committee with a unanimous vote.

It's a measure that aims to save lives, but it drew mixed reactions from students on FSU's campus Tuesday. Some people said they were happy to see the potential expansion of the anti-hazing law, while others said it is not enough.

Florida State endorsed the bill, which would make people who organize hazing responsible if someone is seriously injured or dies, even if the organizer did not participate in the event.

An FSU representative, released a statement, which read, "Florida State fully supports strengthening anti-hazing laws, and this is consistent with the University's many efforts to prevent hazing. We are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all our students."

The bill would grant immunity for the first person who calls 911 to get help for a hazing victim, even if the caller participated in the activity. That aspect of the measure produced different reactions from students.

"More people will be able to speak out," said FSU freshman Angelo Aliotta.

"I do believe that those people should be held responsible," said Joshua Posey, who attends Tallahassee Community College.

Several students and adults did not want to appear on camera. Some of them said they felt the laws are too loose regarding hazing.

The bill also prohibits hazing of former members of fraternities or other organizations, which is a change from the current law that addresses pledges and active members.

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