The parents of 16 college students who died as a result of hazing attended The Parents Anti-Hazing Retreat in 2018—the first of its kind—to develop a plan to stop hazing. Those parents have dedicated themselves to advocating for anti-hazing legislation, and collaborated with the National Panhellenic Conference and the North American Inter-fraternity to form the Anti-Hazing Coalition, which created model hazing legislation.
Hank Nuwer is a professor emeritus at Franklin College in Indiana who has written five books on hazing. Nuwer said the parents "bring such a level of moral authority to the issue" that they can bring legislators, leaders of national fraternities and sororities, and school administrators together to be part of the solution. Their goal is to enact legislation that makes dangerous hazing rituals "just as illegal, and just as unacceptable, as drunk driving, much the way Mothers Against Drunk Driving did back in the 80's and 90's."
Below is a summary of pending and enacted state legislation, with many bills bearing their sons' names as a testament to their efforts.
After four hazing deaths in 2017, The Parents Anti-Hazing Retreat, and formation of the Anti-Hazing Coalition in 2018, nine states have enacted strong anti-hazing laws. A positive sign that the parents' message to stop hazing is getting through is legislation passed in Louisiana and Ohio, and bills pending in Indiana and New York, require hazing prevention education for students and employees.
Ohio: Collin's Law
On July 6, 2021, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 126, known as "Collin's Law," which is a comprehensive hazing that Governor DeWine said he believes "will help change the culture surrounding hazing and save lives." This new law increases penalties for hazing, creates new hazing offenses, and requires schools to post reports on their website that provide information of all violations of the institution's hazing policy.
The law also broadly defines hazing as doing
Individuals may be criminally liable for recklessly participating in the hazing of another person. Additionally, administrators, employees, or faculty members, teachers, consultants, alumni, or volunteers of any organization—including any public or private educational institution—may be criminally liable for recklessly permitting the hazing of any person associated with the organization, or recklessly failing to immediately report hazing to local law enforcement.
Collin's Law also requires public and private colleges and universities to provide mandatory hazing prevention and awareness education for
Finally, the new law prohibits organizations from accepting or initiating students who have not attended the prevention and awareness education program.
The law takes effect on October 7, 2021.
New Jersey: Timothy J. Piazza's Law
On August 24, 2021, New Jersey's governor signed SB 84 into law, which creates serious hazing crimes and requires public information about hazing violations:
The law takes effect on March 11, 2022.
Georgia: Max Gruver Act
In March 2021, Georgia enacted the “Max Gruver Act” to reduce and prevent hazing rituals in the state’s colleges and universities. Max Gruver, a Roswell, Georgia native, had attended Louisiana State University for one month when he passed away in September 2017 from acute alcohol intoxication as a result of a hazing incident.
This legislation bans dangerous hazing to gain status in school organizations, such as fraternities, sororities, athletic teams, and any other club or a student group living together at Georgia’s public and private colleges and universities, or units of the Technical College System of Georgia. The Act expands the definition of hazing to include an activity which endangers, or is likely to endanger, the physical health of a student, or coerces a student using social or physical pressure to to consume any food, liquid, alcohol, drug, or other substance which subjects the student to a likely risk of vomiting, intoxication, or unconsciousness.
Georgia’s Max Gruver Act makes hazing “a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature” that is punishable by up to one year in prison, a fine of up to $5,000.00, or both.
Effective July 1, 2021, Georgia schools must also establish policies for reporting and investigating hazing incidents, and publicly disclosing administrative adjudications or related hazing or other criminal convictions. Additionally, information about the hazing incidents (name of the school organization involved, dates the hazing occurred, and a description of the findings, adjudications, and convictions) must be posted on the school’s website for a minimum of five years after final adjudication or conviction. However, the report must not include personal identifying information of the individual students involved, consistent with the requirements of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Effective January 1, 2020, Oregon colleges and universities must adopt a written hazing policy and provide annual policy training for students that covers the harmful effects of hazing and the relevant laws and institution's policies that prohibit hazing. In addition, institutions must submit annual reports to the Legislative Assembly on the number of hazing incidents reported and the number investigated during the previous academic year (Educ. and Culture Code §350.259).
Oregon law defines hazing as a student organization or one of its members (includes volunteers, coaches and faculty advisers) subjecting someone to:
Florida: Andrew's Law
In November 2017, Florida State University President John Thrasher suspended activities at all 55 fraternities and sororities after Andrew Coffey died from excessive alcohol consumption during a party at Florida State’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter, where he was pledging.
Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, said that this new law will likely test whether officials who sign off on a Greek life event would be immune from criminal charges or a civil case, "is definitely a new frontier for hazing prevention.”
Louisiana: Max Gruver Act
In September 2017, Louisiana State University suspended all Greek activities after the hazing death of Maxwell Gruver, who was forced to drink alcohol during a fraternity ritual. The autopsy found that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.495. In 2018, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed four hazing bills into law to address hazing on Louisiana campuses after Max Gruver’s alcohol-related hazing death:
Pennsylvania: Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law
After the hazing death of Timothy Piazza in 2017, Penn State's Board of Trustees announced new rules that transfer control of disciplinary action against its members from Greek organizations to the university. Eight members of the fraternity were also charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Piazza's death.
Tim Piazza's parents worked with legislators on the “Timothy J. Piazza Anti-Hazing Law" (SB1090), signed into law by Governor Wolf on October 19, 2018, that
Indiana HB1511 was introduced on January 14, 2021, and would, if enacted, require institutions of higher education (IHEs) to provide a hazing education program (delivered in person or online) to all students and staff members who advise or coach student organizations that
In addition, this bill would require
Existing New York law defines criminal hazing in the first degree as intentionally or recklessly engaging in conduct during the initiation into or affiliation of a person with any organization that causes physical injury to another person (NY Penal Law §120.16).
In January 2021, bills were introduced in the Senate and Assembly (A.3443/SB194) that would require hazing education (either in-person or online) for all secondary and postsecondary students within 30 days of enrollment that must be completed before attending classes and cover
Students who fail to complete the program within 30 days would not be allowed to attend school or participate in a local or national organization until the program is completed. In addition, national organizations would be required to provide a separate and supplemental hazing education program for members of their local affiliate chapters operating in New York.
This bill also provides for fines of up to $15,000 if employees or members of the governing boards of national Greek organizations or institutions of higher education knowingly directed, supervised, or actively participated in the hazing. An individual who participated in hazing could be convicted of a personal hazing offense, which would be punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 if it doesn't result in serious bodily injury. Aggravated personal hazing that causes serious bodily injury would be punishable by a fine of up to $15,000, or ten years' imprisonment, or both.
If enacted, this bill would also create a "state anti-hazing fund" with the fines collected for hazing offenses, which would be used for hazing education programs.
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Karen Peterson, JD
Karen Peterson is a legal editor at Vector Solutions. Prior to joining the editorial staff, she spent several years in private legal practice. Now she applies her legal skills to research and writing on higher education law to educate college students and employees about campus safety issues. Her studies focused on jurisprudence and social policy, earning a BA from UC Berkeley and a JD from the University of San Francisco Law School.