House Majority Leader Jason Rojas was reminded of a bill that still hadn’t been called in the House of Representatives when he pulled into the Capitol complex Wednesday morning, the last day of the legislative session.
Standing in his parking spot was the family of Corey Hausman, a Westport resident who died in 2018 after a skateboarding accident at the University of Colorado Boulder only 15 days into his freshman year, and the reason they were there was to urge the East Hartford Democrat to call Senate Bill 954.
The request was personal — the bill would require CT colleges and universities to include campus accidents that result in death or serious physical injury in the annual crime and safety report the institutions are required to provide data for.
“No, pressure, right?” Rojas joked minutes after the state House voted 131-0 on the legislation spurred by the family.
“I work in higher education, so I know how personal and devastating these types of issues can be for families when they lose a child or experience some type of accidental injury when they are at college.”
Months before the legislative session began, Nanette Hausman, Corey’s mother, contacted Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, who at the time was the co-chair of the higher education committee, to share what happened to her son, leading to the creation of the bill.
During a March public hearing, Nanette and her husband Joel told the higher education committee that when they tried to find out how common student deaths and serious accidents are at the college Corey attended after his death, they learned that school did not have a “finite number of how many kids died.”
Under the Clery Act, colleges and universities that receive federal funding are required to submit a report that includes campus crime statistics. The crimes covered include homicides, sexual assault, destruction of property and weapons violations, but does not require them to include accidents that happen on campuses that result. in death or serious injuries.
This bill would change that in Connecticut by having colleges and universities add data on accidental deaths as a reporting requirement.
“I believe that the universities, there is a lot of people that would benefit from this information,” Nanette said during the hearing. “I believe just reporting this one new number on a spreadsheet for the public for the school for everyone to see will help us drive the investment in safety that we need.”
The bill overwhelmingly passed out of the Senate in April and received the same support when it was voted out of the House on Wednesday. The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk.
“People like the lieutenant governor, the other day, pulled me aside [and said] ‘we’re going to get Nanette’s bill done,’” Haskell said. “The majority leader of the House of Representatives, when I went down to the House chamber today to thank him for calling the bill, he said, ‘we need to make sure we get Nanette on the phone and tell her,’ because she really has created a memorable and incredibly touching story that’s associated with this issue that sticks in the mind of every legislator up here.”
The bill was a priority for Rojas as he headed into the final day of the legislative session, but when Hausman’s family met him in his parking spot he was reminded why.
“That is the human part of this process. I couldn’t help but be moved,” he said after the vote. He looked around to see if they were still standing outside the building, lobbying legislators to vote on the bill.
“I wish I could see them to tell them the news.”