South Carolina’s public colleges and universities would soon be required to post online all reports of misconduct by fraternities and sororities, under a bill that reached the state House floor Thursday.
The House Education and Public Works Committee voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of the “Tucker Hipps Transparency Act.” Lead sponsor State Rep. Joshua Putnam, R-Powdersville, said he filed the legislation in response to the 2014 death of a Clemson University fraternity pledge. Hipps’ parents have sued the school and the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity after the bill’s namesake died from falling off a bridge during a morning pledge run.
“The parents and student, when they know these organizations have been fined multiple times, they can either keep their guard up or have a conversation with one another so they can decide if that’s an organization they want to join or continue being a part of,” Putnam told South Carolina Radio Network. He noted the Clemson chapter had previous misconduct violations.
Public colleges would be required to post investigations of student misconduct associated with members of each social organization on campus, but would keep the individual students’ names anonymous. The reports must be updated weekly and the state Commission on Higher Education’s website would link to the individual college reports.
Leaders at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University have publicly supported the idea. “We support the General Assembly’s efforts and conceptually agree with the intent of the legislation to ensure that the public, including students and parents, have information about organizations the students may wish to join,” Clemson said in a statement.
Putnam said he wanted to start the program with the state’s public colleges, before potentially expanding it in the future to also include private institutions.