TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – A tougher anti-hazing law passed earlier this year goes into effect Tuesday.
The law was named to honor a 20-year-old fraternity pledge at Florida State University who died of alcohol poisoning in 2017.
It was members of the former Pi Kappa Phi fraternity that forced pledge, Andrew Coffey, to drink an entire bottle of Wild Turkey and then didn’t seek help as Coffey succumbed to alcohol poisoning.
“It was a wake-up call,” said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at FSU Angela Lauer Chong.
The incident led to a temporary suspension of greek life and alcohol ban at FSU.
“Unfortunately we have got to take steps in a serious manner with our partners and stakeholders and students to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said FSU President John Thrasher while announcing the suspension in November of 2017.
Five charged with the hazing death pled guilty in March of 2018.
Only one, Conner Ravelo, apologized to Coffey’s family.
“And I can make a promise to you that moving forward I’ll be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” said Ravelo.
The tragedy inspired Andrew’s Law, which was signed into law earlier this year.
The law allows organizers of hazing events to be charged, even if they’re not physically present when the crime occurs.
It also grants immunity to those who do seek help when hazing goes too far.
“It really emphasizes the fact of caring for one another and not to hesitate if you think someone is in need of medical care because of any level of hazing, alcohol intoxication, etc. And that has the most potential in my eyes to make a difference,” said Chong.
Four of the 9 fraternity members charged in Coffey’s death are still fighting their charges.
They’re expected to argue their case before an appellate court in mid-October.
The Coffey family reached a settlement in their civil case for an undisclosed amount of money.
Their attorney has been traveling the state and speaking to university students teaching them about Andrew’s Law.