Upstate mom pushes lawmakers to pass federal hazing law

Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - What if you sent your child to college and they never came home?

It happened to Upstate mom, Cindy Hipps. She’s now pushing federal lawmakers to pass an anti-hazing law.

Her son, Tucker, died during a pledge run with his Clemson fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.

“I just can’t imagine not doing something in Tucker’s honor to bring honor to his life. I just can’t imagine letting his death be for nothing,” Cindy Hipps said.

Hipps believes hazing can be prevented. It’s why she’s still fighting for change.

“The REACH Act is a federal bill that adds hazing to one of the reportable offenses,” Cindy Hipps said, ”If someone gets in trouble for hazing, then that will get reported.”

South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan with District 3 is co-sponsoring the bill.

“I’m glad that it’s been raised to the level of awareness that the United States Congress and state legislatures are finally taking up the action to make sure that parents know if they’re sending their son or daughter to a college campus, that if there’s been incidents of hazing, how the universities have addressed it,” Rep. Jeff Duncan said, “There’s some sort of transparency and accountability on the part of the universities.”

The REACH Act calls for all public colleges and universities to report incidents of hazing.

It also aims to prevent them from happening again.

“Another piece of that is education. Right now, hazing education or anti-hazing education is not mandated,” Hipps said.

South Carolina is one of 44 states with anti-hazing laws, but the definitions and penalties vary widely.

“Here in South Carolina, we have the Tucker Hipps Transparency Act, but if you send them out of state, how do you know what the campus crime is like,” Hipps said.

Hipps believes a federal anti-hazing law will hold all colleges and universities accountable.

“I do think, as a general rule, hazing has gone down at Clemson. I’ve been looking at other universities we have and I report this to the South Carolina Higher Education Committee because some of the universities are not reporting as they should. I don’t know how they actually hold them accountable, but that shouldn’t be my job to do that,” Hipps said, “That’s another reason we need the REACH Act, because someone does follow-up on those and there are great penalties because it being a federal law.”

54 lawmakers are co-sponsoring the bipartisan bill. Lawmakers are working to get it passed this fall.