Miami’s Bianchi educates students about the dangers of hazing
MIAMI ATTORNEY DAVID BIANCHI recently addressed nearly 2,000 students at Florida State University, the University of Miami, the University of Central Florida, and Florida International University about hazing in general and specifically about the new Andrew’s Law passed by the Legislature earlier this year and which became effective October 1. Bianchi got active in the issue after he represented the parents of Andrew Coffey, who died in a November 2017 hazing incident at FSU. After settling a case against nine students and the chapter advisor for the involved fraternity, Bianchi, along with Tom and Sandy Coffey, lobbied the legislature for amendments to the felony hazing law. That resulted in Andrew’s Law, which grants protection from the hazing laws for the first person who calls 911 or gives aid to an injured hazing victim. Bianchi spoke at the four colleges in September as part of National Hazing Week and distributed a pamphlet prepared by his office on the new law. It lists 48 confirmed hazing deaths around the country since 2000 and educates about hazing laws, including that victim consent is no defense. “The only way this new law will make a difference going forward is if students know that it exists and if they understand why it is in their best interest to call for help when a hazing victim needs help,” Bianchi said. “Andrew Coffey would be alive today if someone had called for help when he really needed it rather than ignoring his issues and going home.” Coffey died after drinking an entire bottle of bourbon that had been taped to his hand during a nighttime party where he was attempting to pledge to a fraternity. Rather than seek help after he passed out, he was taken to a sofa to sleep it off. When he was discovered in the morning, according to the resulting investigation, there was an 11-minute delay in seeking help while fraternity members exchanged text messages and phone calls that showed the members were more concerned about getting in trouble than helping Coffey.