TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Kip Bateman, Troy Singleton and Linda Greenstein on hazing in colleges and schools has cleared the Senate. The bill, S-3150/S-3628, would increase penalties for hazing activities resulting in injury.
The Timothy J. Piazza Law is named for a Penn State University sophomore from Readington who died during a fraternity hazing in 2017.
“Unless we explicitly prohibit the deep-rooted custom of hazing, more families will suffer,” said Bateman (R-16). “When our kids go to college, they should have the right to live and learn in a safe environment without fear. Parents who send their children off to school should demand no less.”
The bill would increase hazing resulting in serious bodily injury to a third degree offense, and if the hazing causes simple injury, the charge is elevated from a disorderly persons offense to a fourth degree charge.
“For too long, hazing has been used as a rite of passage into college fraternities and sororities. It is dangerous, it is irresponsible, and tragically, it is sometimes deadly,” said Senator Singleton (D-Burlington). “However, as a member of a Greek organization, I am saying ‘enough is enough.’ If students are found guilty of hazing another student they should fully understand the seriousness of this illegal practice and what’s at stake. If we want students to stop hazing, there needs to be real consequences for their actions.”
The measure also expands the list of activities that constitute hazing and establishes immunity for an individual who reports hazing to emergency services, remains on the scene, and cooperates responders.
“It is evident that Greek life and hazing rituals continue to be intertwined and are still taking place at colleges throughout the country,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Anything that puts the physical wellbeing of students at risk must be met with repercussions and college fraternities and sororities must understand that hazing is not going to be tolerated under any circumstances.”
More than half of college students involved with fraternities, sports teams and other organizations experience hazing.
“No one should be subjected to ritual humiliation,” added Bateman. “Students must understand that hazing is a crime, and there are serious, life-altering consequences for engaging in such malicious and depraved behavior. This law will be a strong deterrent to ensure college kids get that message.”