Binge drinking is popular among some college students, including in fraternities and sororities. Rep. Travis Smith, R-Dora, is sponsoring a bill that would shield anyone from being found guilty of hazing if they take certain steps to save a victim of hazing.

The bill is in response to Danny Santulli, a former University of Missouri fraternity pledge who can no longer walk, talk, or see because of a hazing incident. Danny had an excessive amount of vodka to drink on that October night in 2021.

“I found out about the Santulli family and I was like, there is absolutely no reason this should have happened at the University of Missouri. There’s no reason it should have happened anywhere,” Smith told Missourinet. “No one should fear getting in trouble when you’re trying to save someone else’s life. And that was the whole idea of this bill. I think there was a multitude of things that contributed to his unwell being, but if someone would just have made the phone call as soon as this young man had passed out, and they knew he was having trouble, he’d be okay today.”

Under his bill, a person who is first to call 911 or campus security to ask for medical help, could not be found guilty of hazing. If they provide first aid to a hazing victim, they would be immune from prosecution for hazing. They must remain at the scene until help arrives from emergency services, law enforcement, or security.

Smith said he’s not “going after” the University of Missouri. He said he graduated from the university and was part of the Greek system.

“We just don’t want someone that’s a good Samaritan to hesitate making that phone call to save someone’s life because I can tell you, talking to the Santulli family personally, they would much rather have their son back like he was before, than these gentlemen who did this sitting in the Missouri State Penitentiary,” said Smith.

Unlike what some opponents argue, Smith said his bill does not give people a free pass for hazing someone.

“That is not the truth,” he said. “They can still be expelled from the university. They could get in trouble for supplying alcohol to a minor. There’s plenty other things that they could get prosecuted for.”

Tom Santulli, the father of Danny Santulli, throws his support behind the legislation.

“That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook completely,” Santulli told Missourinet. “You’re off the hook for hazing, right, if you call 911. To Danny’s situation, one person did call 911. But he waited and waited. He called 911 for directions. If this person called 911 for paramedics, Danny would be in a much better state. Something needs to be done because if nothing is done, this will continue. And as we speak, it’s still continuing.”

He said Danny was just an overall good kid, with a good heart, and surrounded by love and support.

“I was always concerned about fraternities,” said Santulli. “I never believed in fraternities. I never belonged to a fraternity. We discussed hazing with Danny. We knew people in this fraternity Danny was joining, so we felt okay.”

Santulli said the University of Missouri administration has had an open door policy with him and has been working to collaborate with him.

The legislation has been slow to move through the legislative hoops. A Missouri House committee held a public hearing on the bill in early March but it has not yet voted on the measure.

To view House Bill 1443, click here.

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