Anti-hazing bill to go through the Ariz. House
* Tempe Campus
Derek Quizon 
Thursday, January 29, 2009
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An anti-hazing bill in the Arizona Legislature targets fraternities and sororities at universities across the state that engage in what it calls â€œharmfulâ€ behavior for the purpose of initiating their members.
House Bill 2387, the unlawful hazing law, would bar anyone employed by or attending an educational institution from forcing others to engage in harmful activities â€œfor the purpose of pledging, being initiated into â€¦ or maintaining membership in any organization.â€
Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, said he sponsored the bill in response to incidents involving fraternity hazing, including the nine arrests made last September in connection with a car crash authorities said was caused by fraternity members who drank and vomited large quantities of milk over the footbridge traversing University Drive.
Ableser said the new law would make it possible for hazing victims to bring civil suits against perpetrators, in addition to imposing harsher sentences in the most extreme cases resulting in injury or death.
â€œThis bill is aimed at the fraternities,â€ Ableser said. â€œThis way, victims and their families can sue organizations [suspected of hazing] in civil cases.â€
If passed, the bill would make all forms of hazing illegal, regardless of whether or not the victims were physically harmed or gave their consent. Incidences that do not result in injury, according to the bill, would be petty offenses.
â€œHazingâ€ is defined in the bill as physical brutality, physical activity or consumption of food or beverages that could pose an unreasonable risk of harm to an individual, as well as coercing others to engage in illegal activity. Victims of hazing would not be prosecuted under the law in hazing cases.
Ableser said the bill is modeled after a similar law in Michigan, which he has reduced the problem of fraternity hazing.
â€œBlatant hazing done by fraternities over there is going away,â€ Ableser said.
The Michigan anti-hazing law, also known as Garretâ€™s Law, was passed in 2004. Michigan was the 44th state to adopt an anti-hazing law.
Chris Haughee, assistant director of Greek life at the University of Michigan, said the laws are usually passed for political purposes.
â€œ[The laws] have been too often a political response to a situation and donâ€™t really address how to [prevent] hazing from a public policy approach,â€ Haughee said.
Haughee added that the laws had little practical purpose because they only target the most heinous cases the ones resulting in injury or death and prosecutors rarely pursue charges of hazing in those cases.
â€œTypically if you have a hazing incident that involves physical injury, in my observation, prosecutors would prefer to charge defendants under [the regular] statutes other than the hazing statute,â€ Haughee said.
Members of ASUâ€™s Interfraternity Council declined to comment on the legislation.
University officials have said it is against University policy to comment on bills in the legislature.
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