PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – New legislation, set to be filed in December, will restructure hazing offenses and increase penalties in South Carolina.
Right now, hazing is a misdemeanor offense, but the proposed bill will redefine hazing and increase the punishment.
On Wednesday, 13th Circuit Solicitor Walk Wilkins, Rep. Gary Clary and the family of Tucker Hipps gathered to send a strong message to student organizations across college campuses in South Carolina.
“Hazing is not going to be allowed,” said Wilkins.
Solicitor Wilkins says the proposed bill rewrite the current hazing statute, by redefining what hazing is. “The previous definition was very broad and unclear,” he told 7News.
It would also increase penalities, so violators can be punished to the full extent of the law.
“In South Carolina, if you die from hazing it’s a misdemeanor and there’s a 30 day penalty and a $500 fine,” said Cindy Hipps, Tucker Hipps’ mother. “So to me that’s just not enough.”
But the most notable change is “the binge drinking,” said Wilkins. “That can be extremely dangerous, because obviously alcohol can affect the body and cause great bodily injury. If that occurs you could be prosecuted for making somebody do that.”
The bill is intended to keep college students safe, while they enjoy their time on campus. That’s why the Hipps helped push for the new legislation.
“Well we never even looked at the South Carolina hazing law until after Tucker’s death.” Cindy Hipps said.
Tucker Hipps, 19 at the time, died while pledging a Clemson fraternity in 2014 when he was allegedly being hazed by the members of Sigma Phi Epsilon. His family says Hipps was forced to walk a narrow bridge, before he fell to his death over Lake Hartwell.
“Nothing is ever going to bring Tucker back,” said Cindy Hipps. “But to have this legislation and to know that South Carolina has a strong legislation, has a strong bill, that supports people going to jail if they haze someone. To me that’s going to put a message to kids… okay this is against the law, we can’t do this anymore.”
At this time, no one has been charged in Hipps’ death.
The bill will be pre-filed in December by Representative Gary Clary.
The could become law as soon as July 2019.