March 11, 2021

Legislators Encouraged as Higher Education Committee Sends Legislation Requiring Reporting of Accidental Deaths, Serious Injury to House, Senate Floor

Today, the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee voted to approve legislation requiring higher education institutions to report accidental deaths and serious injuries occurring on campus. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for consideration. Legislators involved in the bill’s drafting, including former Higher Education Senate Chair State Senator Will Haskell (D-Westport), current House Chair State Representative Josh Elliott (D-Hamden) and former Higher Education Committee Ranking Member State Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) each applauded today’s committee vote. Most importantly, the family of Corey Hausman signaled their intention to continue fighting to bring the bill across the finish line.

Should it be signed into law, Senate Bill 954, “An Act Requiring The Reporting of Incidents That Resulted In Serious Physical Injuries Or Deaths at Institutions of Higher Education,” would require colleges and universities to report the number of accidental deaths and serious injuries that occur on campus. This data would be added to statistics that colleges and universities are required to report each year by the federal Clery Act.

Testifying before the committee, Nanette Hausman of Westport told the story of her son, Corey. Corey died from injuries sustained in an accident on his college campus just weeks into his freshman year. This was the third death in 15 days since the start of classes at that college. Although Corey’s death occurred outside of Connecticut, Nanette cited the critical role of transparency and helping colleges get the funding they need to prioritize investment in all areas of safety.

“The ultimate goal is to save every future college student from becoming a tragic story like my boy Corey’s,” she testified. “It is also to help our public health agencies collect evidence-based accident data.” Hausman added the objective “is not to blame our colleges, it is to create transparency around accidental death.”

“Almost a year ago, Nanette picked up the phone and shared Corey’s story with me. With grace and courage, her family has channeled their grief into advocacy. They’ve working tirelessly to make sure that no tragedy is overlooked,” said Sen. Haskell. “Together, we met with colleges and universities in Connecticut to reach a consensus on how this data might be reported and used to invest in safer campuses. I am so honored to have the opportunity to work on this bill alongside the Hausman family, and I’ll fight to make sure it’s considered on the Senate Floor.”

“The courage shown by the Hausmans to bring this issue forward is courageous and inspirational, especially as they manage to endure such an unimaginable experience,” said Sen. Hwang. “As a parent of a college student, I empathize with the simultaneous excitement and worry that you feel when you drop your child off at campus. There is a lot of fear and uncertainty – but higher education institutions must be accountable to be responsive and communicate with immediate family. Colleges and universities must take sincere and serious responsibility to treat these students as their own children. I believe that Senate Bill 954 is a positive step in minimizing the uncertainty by diligently collecting data and empowering parents to have a voice in ensuring their child is protected.”

“This bill just makes sense, and it’s alarming that a proposal like it hasn’t already been signed into law,” said Rep. Elliott. “We currently collect similar data from institutions and shouldn’t neglect collecting this information as well. This bill would close that gap and provide the full scope of deaths on college campuses creating a transparent approach to making necessary improvements for the safety of students.”