COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - An act requiring that all South Carolina colleges and universities report any acts of misconduct by student groups on campus is set to expire this year. Now, Representative Gary Clary is working to make the Tucker Hipps Transparency Act permanent law.
The act is named for Clemson University student, Tucker Hipps, who died in 2014 during an alleged hazing incident. The 19-year-old student was on an early-morning run with members of the fraternity he was pledging.
According to documents from a lawsuit, witnesses say Tucker was forced to walk along the narrow railing above a bridge before falling and hitting his head on rocks in the shallow water below.
In an effort to make students and parents more aware of incidents like this on college campuses, the Tucker Hipps Transparency Act was passed in 2015 requiring that all state universities and colleges report any acts of misconduct by student organizations.
“I’ve heard from parents from around the state about how valuable this resource is – and even out-of-state parents – because when they look at a particular college or university, if they can see the organizations that their child may participate in. Then this gives them a good idea of the kind of issues that the university or college has had with that organization,” Representative Clary said.
While the criminal case has stalled in the investigation into Tucker’s death, the Hipps family later settled their lawsuit against Clemson University and Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity which Tucker was pledging.
In addition to proposing legislation which would make the Tucker Hipps Transparency Act permanent, Representative Clary is now working with the Hipps family to take the law even further.
“Incidents like the death of Tucker Hipps occur throughout the country and I think there’s been a concerted effort by parents, friends and others to try to have conformity throughout the states in the way that these issues are dealt with because if a child or an adult creates a situation where serious bodily injury or death occurs, then there should be penalties and consequences,” Representative Clary said.
The Republican lawmaker also says with these harsher penalties, it’s also important that students, staff members, and parents are fully educated on the potential of hazing on college campuses.