Hazing News

Arizona hazing law development


Anti-hazing bill to go through the Ariz. House

* News
* Tempe Campus

Derek Quizon [1]
Published On:
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version [2]


An anti-hazing bill in the Arizona Legislature targets fraternities and sororities at universities across the state that engage in what it calls “harmful” 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 “for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into … or maintaining membership in any organization.”

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.

“This bill is aimed at the fraternities,” Ableser said. “This way, victims and their families can sue organizations [suspected of hazing] in civil cases.”

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.

“Hazing” 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.

“Blatant hazing done by fraternities over there is going away,” Ableser said.

The Michigan anti-hazing law, also known as Garret’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.

“[The laws] have been too often a political response to a situation and don’t really address how to [prevent] hazing from a public policy approach,” 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.

“Typically 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,” Haughee said.

Members of ASU’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.

Reach the reporter at [4].

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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