WTVY  | Dothan, AL  | Politics, News

Federal Lawmakers Consider Hazing Legislation

They're the faces prosecutors say were behind the untimely death of a young man who wanted desperately to fit in.

FAMU drum major Robert Champion's death and the hazing ritual behind it have led to a nationwide focus on wiping out the deadly culture, including a new bill in Congress. It would deny federal student aid to anyone convicted of hazing, which might have the effect of preventing them from ever returning to school.

Kevon Jones is in full support. He says he quit FAMU because hazing became a major distraction.

"If you don't take this action, then there's going to be an outcry, because there's going to be way more hazing than there already is."

The bill would also deny states access to federal highway and transit money if they don't follow Florida's lead in making hazing a felony.

Those are tough penalties, but hazing could be a tough culture to crack.

"It happens everywhere - it happens in football, it happens in sports, it happens in a lot of things!"

Still, FAMU senior Philip Johnson worries revoking financial aid from convicted hazers could carry unintended consequences.

"It's just going to criminalize it, and that's not the answer," Johnson said. "It's just going to take away the opportunity for these people to get an education, I mean, you know, of course people went too far with Robert Champion."

'Going too far' is what the lawmakers behind the bill want to prevent.

Initiation rituals are one thing, but when they turn violent and become hazing, they argue someone has to be held accountable.

The anti-hazing legislation is being filed by Miami democratic congresswoman Frederica Wilson. She's a former state senator who played a leading role in passing the 2005 law that makes hazing a felony.


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